Saturn in the night sky this AprilAs a follow-up to yesterday’s post on Saturn, I thought I would turn to Saturn’s placement in the stars at this time, and the astrological implications for us.

Saturn entered the sign of Virgo in September last year, and will not leave Virgo for good until July 2010. (There will be a short dip into Libra and back again in late 2009 and early 2010.) Because of precession, the sign of Virgo is now located in the part of the sky where we see the constellation Leo. You can easily spot Saturn in the sky. Go out in the evening, after it is dark, and look toward the southwest. You should be able to see the star pattern in this illustration (it may appear tilted in a counterclockwise direction, depending on what time in the evening it is). Leo is recognizable because of its “backward question mark” that makes the front of the lion, and the triangle that makes his tail and hind quarters. The bright star at the base of the “question mark” (the lion’s front leg) is called Regulus (“little king” in Latin). Saturn is to be seen just to the left (east) of Regulus, and is actually brighter than it.

What are the implications of Saturn in Virgo? My own picturesque title for Virgo is “releaser of the harvest”. Virgo takes the brunt of a lot of astrological humor, because of its predilection toward organization and focus on detail. Although there is truth in this, it is important to step back and appreciate the motivations that underly Virgo’s nature. Virgo is a mutable earth sign. It seeks out tangible, tactile activities that create something new and useful. Virgo’s nature is actually quite creative, but it prefers hands-on creativity to the “head in the clouds” musings we sometimes associate with the creative temperament. Virgo seeks to master the practical realities of things in order to transform them into something of value. The Sun is in Virgo during harvest time, and the harvest is a perfect symbol of what Virgo is about: The care and labor that went into raising the season’s crop of grain is transformed into the miracle of bread and nourishment.

When Saturn is in Virgo, he becomes focused on practical work and what it creates for our benefit and nourishment. Unlike Mercury, Virgo’s natural ruler, he finds little delight in skill and craft for its own sake, instead focusing on the product and the discipline required to produce it. His lesson for us at this time is the importance of planning, procedure, and productive work. He will lay down the law on us if our preparations are haphazard or if we don’t manage our time. Saturn in Virgo will find a way to make that seemingly minor detail you forgot to plan for into the linchpin of the whole project, just to illustrate the importance of thoroughness.

Saturn’s energy is relatively subdued now, as he is closing out a retrograde period. At the beginning of May, though, he goes direct again, and we can expect to see some of his lessons hit home with a bit more drama and finality.

Saturn’s effect will be felt strongest by those born with Saturn in Virgo. Most people born in 1978, 1979, and 1980 will be experiencing their first “Saturn return” this year or next. Most of us, during our first decade of young adulthood, develop strategies to appease or evade our Saturn issues. But when Saturn completes its journey around the zodiac and returns to its placement at birth, it can teach us that we haven’t taken care of things very well after all. If you were born with Saturn in Virgo, this time may teach you some very dramatic lessons in the importance of thorough planning.

I’ve also found that Saturn is prone to get to us by transiting our natal Sun. The Sun represents our personal sense of mission and identity, and makes a good target for Saturn’s ego-bludgeoning methods. If your Sun sign is Pisces, Saturn’s time in Virgo can manifest as an apparent conflict between wanting to “go with the flow” and the demands of planning and proactive work.

People born under a Gemini or Sagittarius Sun can also expect some frustrations during this time, as their natural activity, volatility, and curiosity gets reined in by Saturn’s plodding attention to detail.

How do we use Saturn’s time in Virgo productively? The answer will be somewhat different for each of us, as we have different resources to draw on. A good starting place, though, is to take on some productive projects that appeal to you, and be open to developing your organizational skills along the way. Obsessing on the failures and victories can set you up for an unhappy roller coaster ride, though, so try to keep some objectivity about the projects you undertake, and see them as a learning experience. And – who knows – there may be something good to harvest from them in a couple years.