Understanding Saturn: Lord of Karma

Posted on July 20, 2020

A neon lightning bolt on a black background.

Has managing your life become even more challenging lately? If so, you may be feeling the effects of Saturn — the Lord of Karma.

If Saturn is moving through your zodiac sign — which lasts 2.5 to 3 years — you may feel like limitations and restrictions are starting to rule your life. This is because Saturn is THE planet for restrictions, discipline, delay, and life lessons.

Knowing where Saturn is in your personal birth chart is imperative if you’re trying to make big decisions that could change your life’s path.

If you’re feeling the effects of Saturn, take a deep breath and know that by the time this hard teacher of a planet is finished moving through your zodiac sign, you may feel battered, but your life will be moving more in the direction it is meant to go.

When you understand and work with the qualities of Saturn — as they manifest uniquely in your birth chart — you’ll be much more able to overcome obstacles and turn limitations into strength.




About Saturn: Lord of Karma

Think of that teacher at school who you really didn’t like, but years later think to yourself, “I’m so glad they were my teacher, otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

That’s basically Saturn. Headmaster of the School of Hard Knocks, Lord of Karma, and Instigator of Harsh Life Lessons.

He may not be everyone’s favorite cup of tea, but in the grand scheme of things, he is one of the best friends we could ever ask for. He spares no feelings, will tell you the truth plain and simple, and will zoom in on everything that is wrong with your life so you can make changes.

He is the wake-up call you need in order to become the brightest and best version of yourself.

Saturn is all about tough love.

He is a disciplinarian and doesn’t tolerate nonsense. Like Capricorn, the sign he rules over, he can be quite serious and stern. But remember, Saturn has your best interests at heart. When he comes around every 30 years, it’s with the intention to throw a bucket of iced water over you and force you to wake up – regardless of how unpleasant the process is.

Positions of Saturn

Sign of Dignity: Capricorn and Aquarius

These are the signs ruled by Saturn. Saturn bestows his seriousness, discipline and focus to Capricorn and to Aquarius (who he traditionally ruled over). He represents the need to break away from a life path which is not in line with the soul purpose. (This is also a running theme of the Devil card in the Tarot).

Sign of Detriment: Cancer

Saturn is detrimental in Cancer, which is opposite Capricorn. A person with Saturn in Cancer can experience restricted emotions. Cancer is soft, feminine and emotional, whereas Saturn is rigid and disciplined. The combination can result in stifled feelings and an inability to express oneself.

Sign of Exaltation: Libra

Saturn is exalted in Libra, meaning he works very well with this sign. Both of them share a common passion for justice and balance. This is a fortunate combination and transit.

Sign of Fall: Aries

Saturn is in fall in Aries which is opposite Libra. A person with Saturn in Aries may experience periods of rebelliousness to the strict and disciplined Saturn. Aries does what they want, Saturn places boundaries. As the person grows older, however, they learn to work with Saturn.

Why is Saturn the Planet of Karma?

Saturn is the Lord of Karma for good reason. Back in the day, people didn’t live as long as they do now, so whenever Saturn returned for the second time around during the 60 year age range, it usually meant someone was about to leave the planet. (The very glyph of Saturn is the cycle from the god of time Chronos).

This meant that people often feared Saturn, as a person’s passing was also associated with judgement based on how well (or not) they had lived their life.

Saturn is viewed as ‘Old Father Time’ - someone who comes around every few decades to set you on the straight and narrow again if you’ve fallen off the wagon. Saturn never actually leaves your life, and will pay you a visit throughout it to check in on you.

This is why Saturn is known as the Planet of Karma. What you have sown you shall reap and it is Saturn who reminds us of this!

Saturn’s Major Planetary Aspects

Saturn Opposition: Karmic Turning Points

Throughout the year, Saturn opposes a number of planets and when this happens it’s usually not the easiest time. These transits can be very challenging on a number of levels. Issues that Saturn rules such as karma, discipline, time and responsibility can generate conflict, both within ourselves and with others.

Spiritually you might feel low in many areas. So, balance that out in your life over this period with the “if it feels good, it can’t be that bad” mentality. What you put out, you will get back. When it comes at you, just fling it back to the Universe, and exit as peacefully as possible. It’s not a matter of if will it happen, it’s a matter of when.

Your Horoscope will often highlight when Saturn is opposing a planet so you can prepare!

Saturn Direct: Second Chances

When Saturn goes direct, it’s time to rectify our mistakes. This is why this aspect is known as the second chance. Saturn Direct means we are able to honestly assess our past actions, and take steps to make improvements. While it is not always a comfortable journey, it is crucial on our path to well-being.

Read up on: A Guide to Planetary Aspects

Saturn Return: Karmic Chaos

Saturn returns to Saturn in a person’s natal chart once every – roughly – 30 years. These are pivotal turning points in a person’s life. Wherever Saturn is in your chart is where change will be made.

Check out: Why is Saturn Return So Intense?

First Saturn Return

This happens around the age of 29/30. It’s around this time that we tend to “settle down”, and our wild party days of the 20s tend to simmer. At this point, Saturn takes all the mistakes, sadness and bad decisions of the past, and throws them at you.

Any karma accumulated during your first 30 years will crop up. You will get back what you have given out. This is a time of powerful transformation for many.

Perhaps you now not only have children of your own to raise, but you could be looking after aging parents, too. It’s during this period that many people start families, find their chosen career path, and commit to mortgages and other long-term investments.

Second Saturn Return

Saturn comes back again another 30 years later, around the age of 60. When this happens, it’s time to assess the last 30 years of your life. This is a time when many are looking into retirement, when the kids have grown up and when you are starting to settle down in terms of life itself.

Again, Saturn assesses all you have gone through and the decisions you have made. If you have learned the lessons your soul wanted you to learn over the last 30 years, then karma will be positive. If you have failed to learn these lessons, then karma will be swift, and often relentless.

Third Saturn Return

If you make it to this stage, congratulations! This happens around the age of 90. Saturn returns one last time, and by now you view him as an old friend as you have gathered much wisdom and understanding throughout your life.

Here you find yourself gradually detaching from the physical world in anticipation of meeting the spiritual one. You are able to understand the lessons of Saturn more clearly than ever before.

Saturn Square

When Saturn squares off with another planet, it usually represents some kind of challenge to the individual. For example, if Saturn squares Mars it can lead to callous behavior and resentment!

Saturn Trine

A Saturn trine is a positive aspect and indicates greater control and discipline. For example, if Saturn trines Venus there is a very good ability to cope with difficult situations.

Saturn Conjunct

Saturn conjunct with another planet is often an intense meeting. For example, the Saturn-Pluto conjunction earlier this year was a rare transit which only happens once every few decades, and many astrologers highlight this conjunction in line with the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in this year.

Saturn Sextile

Saturn sextile brings positive energy and harmony between it and another planet. For example, if Saturn sextile Neptune then you have greater faith and belief in yourself.

Saturn Retrograde

Saturn turns retrograde every 12 months, and these retrogrades last for approximately 140 days.

Saturn retrogrades sometimes manifest in your chart as times of loss or sadness. It’s not really Saturn’s intention to make you cry; however, Saturn is a disciplinarian. What loving father won’t chastise his child for doing wrong? If Saturn is smacking your legs, it’s not to make you resentful or bitter, it’s to show you what you need to turn around in order to live your life to the fullest.

Even with all of this going on, there are some things you should try to avoid during the time when Saturn is retrograde:

  • Don’t stray too far out of your comfort zone. Saturn’s not the daredevil (you can look to Mars for that). Saturn needs to do things in a disciplined and controlled way, one step after the next, in order, and thoroughly. If you’re not prepared to do that, then postpone the entire project until another time, which leads us nicely into the next point.
  • Don’t start anything new. Retrograde period is the time for major changes. Set plans up before the retrograde hits, and then put them in action once Saturn turns direct again. One of Saturn’s main lessons is patience.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin. You want to make a good impression and get things done, but Saturn retrogrades make it harder to get ahead because it takes longer to finish things. If you over schedule yourself, something’s going to have to give. You might not have the energy it takes to accomplish everything on your agenda, so make sure you leave plenty of room for downtime.
  • Don’t take things—or people—for granted. Part of Saturn’s karma is if you take something for granted or fail to appreciate what it does for you, you could well lose it. If you value it, if you’ve people in your life you like having around, do not take them for granted—not ever, but particularly not during a Saturn retrograde.

Saturn Will Transform & Awaken You

Hopefully, this article will have given you the basics of Saturn, and what he represents.

As previously mentioned, Saturn is not the most popular planet. He is viewed as a malefic planet, one which brings struggle and challenges to the individual and world at large. But along with Pluto, Saturn can be a favorite planet! The reward that comes from undergoing struggle and learning crucial life lessons results in greater wisdom, compassion and understanding, both at an individual level and on a collective one.

Saturn is not the friend who will tell you lies in order to keep you happy. He is not the partner who goes behind your back, because he doesn’t want to confront you with his true feelings. He is not the neighbor who pretends everything is fine, but in reality complains about you to the neighborhood.

Saturn is raw, true and authentic and, what’s more, he wants you to be too. No matter how difficult or challenging his influence may be, just remember that he truly has your best interests at heart.

Read this next: Saturn Through the Houses: Responsibility’s Knocking!

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Sarah Brownlee is a harmonious Libra Sun, Conflicted Scorpio rising, and a Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac. A whirlwind writer with a passion for Tarot cards and Astrology in all… Learn More About The Author »

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