Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Strength or Leo card from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck
In the early 1980s I was given a psychic reading as a gift, done by a Jewish dyke named Tasha Silver. I was skeptical when I went in, a believer when I came out, at least as far as Tasha's abilities were concerned. Later that year, I took a class from her in psychic defense, which taught me how to manipulate my aura for protection. It was a stupendous skill that I've used ever since: I stopped being harassed in public after that.

I also had her read my astrological chart, and she was the first to tell me about Saturn returns. This is shorthand for the period when Saturn (a very slow-moving planet) returns to occupy the sign it was in at the time of your birth. Since Saturn stays in each sign of the zodiac an average of two years, you hit your first "Saturn return" at around age 28 and stay in it until around age 30. You have subsequent returns at around 56-57 and, if you live long enough, 28 years or so after that.

Saturn is a planet which governs major life lessons, so the Saturn return, as Tasha put it, is when the piper first comes due: Whatever you have resisted learning smacks you up alongside the head and keeps doing so for a coupla years. I have six planets in Leo, which is a curse and blessing all at once. But my Saturn is in Scorpio, and sometimes those six Leos are no match for the single Scorp.

Tasha said Scorpio is associated with death, sex, and secrets. Well hello Hannah. Sex and secrets had governed much of my life up to that point, and I was already hard at work disentangling the mess. Death didn't scare me so much.

Until I hit 28 in 1983, and folks began dying. Eventually, in April 1984, it was my mother who died, the loss I had been fearing the most. At some point during the mourning that following, I noticed that Mama had been 56, which meant she was in her second Saturn return when she died -- and that I had been born during her first Saturn return. Interesting.

A year later, still as part of the mourning process, I began doing genealogy in earnest. And at some point, I stumbled across this math:

My mother was born in 1927 to Hettie Alberta Turner Atkins when Hettie was 29 and in her Saturn return -- in Scorpio, of course. That same year, Hettie died, still in her Saturn cycle. (Her death anniversary is tomorrow.)

Hettie Turner was born in 1897 to Sarah Lee Armstrong Turner, whose sun sign as well as four other planets were in Scorpio. And Sarah died at age 27, during her Saturn return.

Thus, I'm the fourth matrilineal generation where Saturn returns have determined birth and death times. Does this make me nervous about my approaching 56th year, three years away? On bad days, yeah.

But then I remind myself of the fortune-telling I did for our annual high school Halloween carnival, sitting in a dark booth, dressed in scarves and hoop earrings, with a deck of fake Tarot cards. (Later, in my 20s, I got real Tarot card and turned out to have a serious knack for reading them.) No matter who sat down at the table opposite me, I took their hand and studied it for a minute, then had them draw three cards and lay them face up. After a suitable dramatic interval, I'd say (no matter who it was):

"You are far more sensitive and intelligent than anybody realizes, even those who seem to know you best. You long to make a difference in this world, to be a force for good. You wish your parents had shown you more clearly that they loved you. You struggle to be fair and just, though you have not yourself been treated fairly and with justice enough of the time. You have longings which would deeply touch others if they knew your heart, and a goodness that soon will be revealed, if you can only hang on."

These words were accepted as utter truth by everyone I "read" (I can be very convincing) and I was the hit of the carnival. One man, the crusty rancher father of a friend, burst into tears there in our dark cubicle. I figured out I wasn't actually tricking people, I was speaking to a universal condition with empathy and handing out hope.

Which is all we really want when we turn to others for answers. Right?


little gator said...

My maternal grandmother and her mother both died at 67. My mother was a bit worried the year she was 67, but she's 80 now with pretty good health.

If she *had* died at 67, I know what I'd be thinking.

There's also a 3-generation pattern in which the secondborn child is a girl born on Dec 9th.

Anthology Authors said...

Very interesting. I am a Scorpio with a lot of Mars. My name, Marci, is most likely not a coincidence. (grin) And, yes, I've been a bit of a warrior all of my life. I don't remember where my Saturn is, but I think it's in Scorpio. I'd have to look an see. :)


Maggie Jochild said...

I don't know enough about math to understand if these recurring patterns are actually significant or to be expected, only having the meaning we attach to them.

Perhaps it was simply a San Francisco thing (dykes my age from other regions, your take?), but we political lesbians, even the atheists, tended to be serious about astrology. We didn't just ask each other's sun signs, we got moon signs and ascendants as an conversation opener. (I had three lovers who were triple Scorpios, surely that's beyond coincidence, especially given how rotten two of them were.) When my activist group wrote a brochure with a cartoon, we included a line about how cops beat up lesbians because they were "Scorpio with penis rising" and it got huge laughs in the community. And there were values attached to which sign your Saturn return fell in -- some were considered "easy", and the worst of all was Scorpio, which got sympathetic clicks of the tongue. Saturn return was also an excuse for acting irrationally, as in "Why did Jules and Deb break up? Oh, Deb's going through her Saturn return." Say no more.

Heather said...

My Saturn in Scorpio is approaching. I am facing it with some trepidation and excitement- the last 3 years have been a powerful learning curve already!
I hope yours left you happy and well.
All good wishes

attorney referral service said...

Just lost my mom two days after my second return ended. I cannot help but wonder as I thought all along she would not make it to the the end was it really still in orb as it was still in my 12th house. Or was the lesson over of being caregiver and no longer needed? I am still wondering?
Lisa Spitzer MSW blessedbe.com This has caused me to change direction in my life career to a more spiritual path