More than any other planet, Saturn needs to be read within its cycle, which consists of both the cycle around the wheel and the personal cycle created by the changes or decisions made in the past. Saturn rewards effort made on problems in the past, and resurrects problems that have been avoided.
Saturn transits are usually experienced as outer events that happen to us, even though they are really manufactured as a result of our own needs and wishes which Saturn helps us achieve. However, we would not need Saturn's help if we were able and willing to see and change the bad habits and situations that keep us from success. Therefore, we usually feel hijacked by fate. Also, Saturn represents the inner authority. Sadly, a bad home life or negative programming from society can twist the power of Saturn to achieve ends that are not very worthy. Many religious or progressive leaders have had strong Saturn contacts in their charts, yet so have some abusers and bigots. In the latter cases, the person has completely projected the issues of Saturn onto the environment and is trying to solve their problems by "fixing" other people. The less a person takes responsibility for their own Saturn issues, the more difficult the transit is likely to be.
The flavor of a Saturn transit is very different depending on the sign, house and dignity of the natal planet. A dignified natal Saturn is a lot less like the negative stereotypes. You can usually trust it to be good though not easy. Whenever a planet comes from its own sign of dignity or exaltation it acts with both moral and physical strength. Any similarity to the natal sign will make the transit easier, as it will feel less alien. The natal house will have importance too. For instance, if Saturn is transiting through your 4th house it will affect issues to do with the home, planning for the future and especially the inner sanctum or center: what grounds you. But if Saturn is natally in the 10th, the changes that come about in the 4th house issues may be brought about through a change in job, public standing or how you view yourself in relation to the world.
Saturn either rewards for past effort or pushes toward future achievement. It is often called the "Lord of Karma", and it is true that whenever Saturn transits a house the results are based on what you have done in those areas in the past. You can feel a sudden wave of success, usually accompanied by more work and responsibility, or you can feel like Sisyphus, sludging up a hill just to be pushed down again.
One cycle is based on the natal position of Saturn and the major aspects from it over time. For example, if you have a natal Saturn at 1 degree Aries, the first major aspect is a sextile at 1 degree Gemini. The sextile gives you an opportunity which you may not take advantage of because things are going fairly smoothly and you don't want to rock the boat. Nevertheless, you should use that time to ensure that you are on the right track, because the next Ptolemaic aspect is a square at 1 degree Cancer. This square happens at approximately age 7, 35, 43 and 71. It represents a time when you have already launched projects and goals you are now questioning, especially if you did not use the energy of the previous sextile well. You have the choice now whether to continue to pour your energy into your current goals or redirect them to things more satisfying. You may find yourself going back to school to learn a career you had been interested in but gave up on in the past. You may leave a relationship or change a career. Whatever you do, you will be trying to reconcile where you are headed with where you want to be. The next transit aspect is a trine, and as you can imagine that one is easier and much more related to success. You should not have to make any major changes, but if you do they are not likely to be life-shattering unless other factors prevail. The opposition at age 14, 42, 50 and 78 depends on what happened during the square. If you stayed on the path you were on and it was the right path for you, you should experience a lot of rewards now. If you dropped one direction in life to pursue another, you should begin to see positive indications that you are on the right path. If not, this could be difficult, perhaps representing a time when you feel nothing is going right. Saturn continues in this manner around the wheel until it reaches the Saturn Return, which is almost always a major period of readjustment and change. If you have not until now been adjusting your path to focus better on what you really want to achieve, the Saturn return will abruptly pull the rug out from whatever you are doing and try to push you in the right direction.
- The first quadrant (house 1 through 3) represents the inner or basic life and Saturn's transit through these houses will tend to make you look inward. Here you fix the problems related to your own attitudes and communication. It is generally not very helpful to career it is a downward, inward trend. If you experience any success in career or public issues now, be aware they are a result of past work or other planetary factors, and may actually disappear or reverse themselves as Saturn approaches the IC. If your Saturn transits normally cause depression, then you may want to get some medical help to get past the period of Saturn on the IC, particularly if the Moon, natal or progressed, is affected by Pluto or Scorpio.
- The second quadrant (houses 4 through 6) is involved with work, daily life and close connections. Transits through these houses will affect life on a personal level, but are more outward oriented than the first quadrant. Here you fix the problems related to your daily habits and physical environment. There is often a huge feeling of relief as Saturn starts climbing again around well past the IC. Now you can feel this energy pushing toward outward success and you generally work very hard right now, though the rewards may not be immediately visible.
- The third quadrant (houses 7 through 9) deals with the community and our interactions with others in a wider sense than did the second quadrant. Marriage and long term relationships are here instead of the second quadrant because they bind us to society and law. Now is the time to establish a career or go back to school. The transits through the personal houses should have cleaned up the neurosis, bad habits and laziness and established a firm foundation of support from self, home and family. Ideally, you are now prepared to turn outward and do great things without having your support structure fall apart.
- The fourth quadrant (houses 10 through 12) are transpersonal, and Saturn's transit through these houses might make us restless to achieve something great and lasting for humanity as a whole. Often it is a period of reaping success and recognition from all the work in the previous quadrants. Ideally, this is the time to get involved in projects that support your view of what the world should be, whether that is through political activism or a local church. However, it can also be a time that you rack up credit card bills and generally mishandle the success you have achieved because you forget what it is like to be basic, humble and appreciative of the small things in life. At that point, Saturn enters the 1st house again and strips you of your outer persona so you can start all over again, hopefully on a higher level.