This piece was written during the last fabled Saturn/Neptune conjunction in Capricorn, and reflects what my generation was going through at that time.
Now, 30 years and one Saturn cycle later, I notice myself still thinking and talking about relationships, as a mentor to others younger than me, indeed, to those who were born during the years of that Saturn/Neptune conjunction.
Once again, you’d think we’d get cynical, but we don’t, not if we fully and consciously process the entire cycle of our experience with others, no matter what.
At this point, I’ve begun to refer to “falling in love” and “being in love” as falling and being “in the spell.” For it IS a spell, this Neptunian dance that we do, of whatever age. As for me, see A Discourse on Love, for my overall view of love and its permutations over time.
YOU’D THINK WE’D GET CYNICAL
WTPE, Gemini 1989
Note: For the Neptune in Libra generation (1942-1957) — born, it seems, to experience over and over again the blooming and fading of romance — one would hope that this year’s Saturn/Neptune conjunctions in Capricorn would mark a turning point in our understanding of ourselves. I confess, however, that, at least for me and some of my friends, the first conjunction on March 3rd seemed less than auspicious . . .
On the night before the first precise conjunction between Saturn and Neptune in 36 years, I couldn’t sleep. (Saturn refused Neptune.) The next morning, feeling too exhausted to work, I decided to spend the day doing errands.
Driving around this mountain valley, I was feeling so spacey, so “out there,” that I had to continually remind myself I was in a lethal machine hurtling down an asphalt highway at 60 miles an hour. Wherever I went, I would get sidetracked, forget what I had really come for until miles later, when I would suddenly remember and have to go all the way back, start over again.
At the day’s end I had covered more than 90 miles, with very little to show for it.
That evening I spoke to my friend Linda about the conjunction and my experience of it. She was astonished. “So that was why I kept staring at the walls (Saturn) today, unable (Neptune) to concentrate (Saturn)!”
My friend Clare, over lunch that same day: “Over the last couple of days I have lost the light. I feel only the darkness. My motivation to work [at her art, creating sacred images] is gone. I feel the [world] situation is futile, hopeless.”
For Clare, Neptune’s supernal light was eclipsed by Saturn’s stark realities; and she felt her depression as a universal condition. Mari, on the other hand, admitted (Saturn) for the first time in her life that she was personally depressed (Saturn). “I’m sick of my false optimism (Neptune). I’ve been faking it all my life. Here all this time I thought I was actually getting somewhere (Saturn) and I’ve been living in a dream world (Neptune)!”
Only my friend Beatrice seemed to be experiencing the Saturn/Neptune conjunction in a balanced, centered manner. She had made a list for that day, a very precise list, noting absolutely everything she had to do, and in what order. “Things are going well,” she said. “I just go from task to task, one foot in front of the other, paying attention to each step along the way.”
Beatrice was born in 1953, during the last conjunction of Saturn and Neptune. No stranger to this peculiar combination of energies, she has been working with it all her life.
Saturn and Neptune were conjoined in the sign of Libra during her birth. Beatrice is a member of that subgeneration within the larger Neptune in Libra generation (1942-1957) which carries the Saturn vibration. She and her peers are mandated to bring the Neptune vibration down to earth, to embody this most mysterious energy within space/time reality.
Neptune in Libra: a utopian yearning for uterine bliss, funneled into marriage and other forms of one-to-one human relationship. Saturn/Neptune in Libra: making Neptune work, making it real: true union, communion with one’s idealized other, the “soul mate.” Beatrice and others born during 1952-1953 are driven by an unconscious need to anchor (Saturn) our utopian dreams of relationship (Neptune in Libra) into real life (Saturn).
For some of these people this means hanging on to their current relationship for dear life, no matter what the cost. No matter how pressing the needs of each for growth beyond the relationship. No matter even if they end up killing each other — slowly, slowly the bitterness sets in — so “committed” are they to “making it work.”
These couples put blinkers on. Refusing to notice the negative emotion between them, they project it outside — onto scapegoats. Huddling together in mutual protection from the harsh world outside, they grow increasingly insulated and dependent — on each other. Relationship here, as closed circuit.
Used in this way, Saturn symbolizes that energy of refusal, denial, a sort of numbness or depression. Saturn sets up as a thick cement wall to prevent our experience of the dark side of ourselves. If only we realized! It is the very act of acknowledging and embracing the shadow within which pushes open the door. We sense and move towards the light from which that shadow was cast.
Functioning in a more positive manner, Saturn is experienced as a shimmering breathing diaphanous membrane, an open channel that gives specific identity to what is inside and yet links inside to outside through continuous osmosis. Through this channel both the dark and the light of Neptune’s most mysterious energy can flow.
Beatrice is unusual. She is actually working in a positive, conscious manner with the Saturn/Neptune sub-generational mission. For several years she has been attempting, with great integrity and focus, to understand the correct, mature and discipline way of going through relationship, of completely processing (Saturn) all the confusing emotional stuff (Neptune) — both dark and light — that comes up and move it through into clarity (Saturn).
Not that she hasn’t had her struggles. I can remember the first year after they were separated. Beatrice was angry, bitter with her ex-, who seemed to be having such a good time without her. It took another lover coming into her life before she could begin to let go of the past and open to her own future.
And I remember the two of them when they were still married. She looked like a scared little mouse, busy cooking for and cleaning up after him. He typified the archetype of the irresponsible artist, always dreaming of where the grass was forever greener. Whenever I saw the two of them together, they were literally leaning on each other, as if that continuous physical contact could succor them, protect them from a world of which they were both so fearful, so hesitant to forthrightly enter.
Interestingly enough, on just the day before this year’s first conjunction she filed for divorce. Finally, after pondering for three full years on how to conduct a fair and honest divorce, how to create a custody agreement meeting their child’s needs not only now, but until she came of age. Saturn conjoins Neptune, bringing the situation to a climax, so that a definite decision is made.
That evening, she and her ex- and their little girl and his new girlfriend all got together for dessert. “It was okay,” she tells me, “We had fun.” Meanwhile, her sister called from California, leaving a message on the phone. “Oh Beatrice! I just wanted to call you on this day, knowing how hard it must be . . .”
Beatrice chuckled. “My sister has no idea what is going on out here. How can I explain it to her?” she asks me, in the usual exasperation we feel when we sense ourselves to be living in two different worlds.
The world of marriage and divorce, especially for the entire Neptune in Libra generation, is experienced as the battleground within which we are processing this confusing issue as to how to create healthy, vital one-to-one relationships.
Her sister sees Beatrice’s divorce the usual way, as failure, a broken vow. Older than Beatrice by only one year, she is also Saturn/Neptune. Moreover, with her Sun in Capricorn, she is particularly attached to the traditional view of marriage. She thinks the way most people do, in linear terms, where the wedding is the first point on a line that stretches into the future ‘til death do us part. To stop before death is, by definition, within a linear framework of consciousness, to fail to endure to the end.
For me, those words “’til death do us part” sound like a death sentence. Yoked together forever. Bound. Bound up. In bondage. No release . . . Gag! I feel suffocated already! On the other hand, I can conceive of a relationship which lasts beyond so-called “death” into other lives as well. To speak of a relationship as certain to continue for a predetermined length of time before it has already taken that time is, to my mind, the kind of knowledge we do not, in advance, possess.
Relationships occur in cycles. We have no idea, when a cycle begins, how long it will last. It could be five minutes, or five years, or five lifetimes. The important thing is to “commit” ourselves fully — not to the person, but to the process we are undergoing with that person. Not to any “vows” we make which are socially traditional, but to the inner vow within each of us to allow our unique nature to unfold in the presence of the other.
We promise to fully and consciously appreciate each and every relationship we have with anyone, and of whatever length it ends up being. In this commitment, we agree to process every single point in our relationship as it comes up; to be utterly and honestly and courageously present within each moment, so that it can come to full flower — open to the miracle, the freshness of a universe forever new, an endlessly flowing fountain of energy, of grace — and then yield, to the next point, the next moment, the next step. Throughout the period of time we spend together we are learning — about ourselves, about each other, about relationship. Throughout this time we are growing, to become more fully, each of us, who we truly are.
For me, if our relationships do not grow, or evolve, in this sense, each of them point to point on their own unique trajectories, they are dead — whether or not we are married.
Beatrice also thinks in terms of circles, cycles. And she sees her marriage and divorce as a particularly interesting cycle in her life, one which she wants to understand as a whole: to recognize why she and her ex- attracted each other in the first place, and to extract and transform the psychological patterns which they enacted throughout their 18 years together. For Beatrice, this was a cycle so rich with significance, that even in its ending, she is still learning from it.
To begin to see relationships in terms of cycles is, I feel, one of the messages that the Saturn/Neptune in Libra generation has to give us. Indeed, it is a lesson these people are forced to learn — through shock: the planet Uranus in Cancer squared their Saturn/Neptune planets at birth. Despite an unusual need for permanence (Saturn) in a utopian relationship (Neptune in Libra), they are more than usually subject to sudden and unpredictable changes in family life (Uranus in Cancer, square Saturn/Neptune in Libra).
Uranus in Cancer, for them, also signifies their penchant for creating unusual “family” situations. Many of them are open to admitting others into their family circle, so that it is not so tight and constricting. Ideally, they learn to value each individual who joins them for his or her utter uniqueness, and to appreciate the bonded spaciousness of an extended family tie that both nourishes and frees. An example here: Beatrice eating dessert with her ex- and his lover on the night after they filed for divorce.
Now we have the conjunction of Saturn/Neptune in Capricorn. What are we to learn during this time? The timing of Beatrice’s filing for divorce might give us a clue. Capricorn is the sign of manifestation. What has been standing in the wings now comes to pass. Definite decisions are reached.
During this Neptune in Capricorn phase of human history (1984-1997), the entire Neptune in Libra generation (1942-1957) is being activated through Neptune’s square to its original placement at our birth. This activation is being emphasized especially during 1989 and 1990, as both Saturn and Uranus travel through Capricorn.
Yet on the day of the first precise Saturn/Neptune conjunction, I suspect few of us were so ready for it that we were able to utilize the conjunction in a productive manner. The stories of me and my friends — full of confusion, spaciness, depression, and futility — certainly illustrate that.
This is not surprising. This is typical for the first of a series of three rare conjunctions between major planets. Hopefully, by November 13, 1989, when Saturn and Neptune make their final conjunction, more of us will be seeing and acting on especially these mysterious relationship issues with as much clarity as Beatrice.
Saturn’s conjunction with Neptune sets into motion whatever comes next. Saturn plants the new seed. Whatever takes place on the subtle levels during 1989 will bear fruit not only during these coming years of Neptune and Uranus in Capricorn, but throughout the new 36-year cycle between Neptune and Saturn which the conjunction initiates.
During these years we will, no doubt, see many people in our generation getting married — again. We cannot avoid it. Our collectively unconscious needs demand that we learn, through relationship, how to ground the spiritual into the physical, how to bring the most elusive energy of Neptune into tangible Saturnine form.
We will also see many people deciding to live together monogamously on a more or less permanent basis, choosing not to marry. Not, as before, because they want to keep their options open, but because, for reasons more or less (usually less) articulated, they fear marriage will ruin their relationship.
The first option is traditional; the second option has also been around for many years — ever since Pluto went into Libra (1971-1983). But the increased emphases on relatively long-range monogamy (Capricorn) is new to us as a generation. It’s as if, until now, our subtle Neptune in Libra yearnings have taken the back seat to the compelling and narcissistic self-absorption of our other deeply unconscious generational energy: Pluto in Leo.
Pluto began its long sextile to Neptune in 1942, the same year Neptune went into Libra. This long term harmonious link between these two great planets will remain in effect until well after the turn of the century. The sextile between these two planets signifies the gradual regeneration of the collective unconscious mind of humanity and constitutes a deep bass note which accompanies all other evolutionary changes.
For most of this period, this deep bass note, though present, operates in a disassociated manner, not integrated with the other urges in our collective psyche. During two periods of this century however, this deep bass note plays in harmony with the other two great planetary energies, Saturn and Uranus. As we might expect, the first time was during the fabled ‘60s, when Uranus conjoined Pluto, sextiled Neptune, and opposed Saturn.
The second time is now, beginning in 1989, and lasting through 1993, as Saturn and Uranus conjoin Neptune to again participate directly in the regenerative sextile with Pluto.
This, I predict, will be the time when the generation born with Neptune in Libra and Pluto in Leo finally grows up.
Back then, we attempted to both express ourselves completely and have utopian relationships as well. We accomplished the first — with a vengeance. And the second Well, we’ve done it over and over again, this business of relationships, this need for, this fear of “commitment.”
Naturally, since this entire subject, for us, is governed by Neptune, we still wonder what in hell we’re doing, what it’s all been for. All these relationships, each one beginning with such stars in our eyes. All these many divorces later. You’d think we’d get cynical. And we do. But we don’t. Someone else comes along. The light in their eyes dances towards us. We cannot resist. We project Neptune out once again, idealizing, romanticizing . . .
Neptune, Saturn and Uranus in Capricorn sextile Pluto in Scorpio, we now settle down into learning to commit ourselves to the process of being within our deeper selves (our original Pluto in Leo now squared by Pluto in Scorpio) precisely through the process of being in relationship with others (our original Neptune in Libra now squared by Saturn/Uranus/Neptune in Capricorn). The one feeds the other. We unearth deep ancient collective forms of relationship and process them to the point where they are utterly changed. We build the new world on the basis of these changed selves, as these changed relationships with our fellows.