As we approach the end of 2015, we’ll start to feel the influence of the Saturn square Neptune transit, which will remain in effect for about a year. This is the “closing square,” which means it is the last hard aspect marking the denouement of the longer Saturn-Neptune cycle that began with the conjunction in 1989, marked dramatically by the fall of the Berlin wall. This longer cycle renews at the beginning of 2026 (probably with a bang, as both Saturn and Neptune move into Aries). So let’s think about some of the ways these two energies might influence each other, and how that could be a good thing in the year ahead.
As I wrote in Steven Forrest’s newsletter this month, Saturn-Neptune times are good for sobering up. A more responsible approach to our inner landscape can clear up foggy, unclear behavior. Discerning Saturn energy can help reveal delusions we’ve bought into, cutting through our mental haze to reveal what’s real. This applies both personally and collectively. If you have planets in the middle degrees of Virgo, Gemini, Pisces or Sagittarius, you’ll notice this transit more than others. And if not, you can witness it in the news…
During Saturn-Neptune times, skeptics and critics get to have their say, as spin doctors don’t seem to be able to work their magic quite as well as usual. Boy, could we use some more of that! Masters of satirical social criticism like John Stewart (who has a wide Saturn-Neptune square natally) take center stage during Saturn-Neptune times. Stewart could speak volumes just by raising an eyebrow at the right moment of a deceptive pundit’s performance. With the internet in full swing, we are exposed to more truth – and more lies – than ever. It takes work to discern what is real from what has been constructed artificially to suit someone’s agenda. Skillful critics and skeptics who we trust to be honest, can help us sort through the mess and uncover what’s real.
Skepticism and criticism often get a bad rap. When used properly – to discern the truth – they can be a great asset. One of America’s most revered skeptics and critics of organized religion was Mark Twain, who had natal Saturn in Scorpio square Neptune in Aquarius. He wrote, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” (1) When my best friend gave me a copy of Twain’s Letters from the Earth when I was 14, it shook my foundations with a perspective on Christianity I hadn’t yet been exposed to, freeing me from a lot of limiting (and ungrounded) beliefs.
I was excited to get the opportunity recently to catch a screening of the Elliott Smith documentary Heaven Adores You at the 2014 Portland Reel Music film fest. A pained soul who left the world too soon, Smith is yet another artist whose absence makes our growing adoration for his work bittersweet. And the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death only serve to heighten our interest in his life.
The director was in attendance at the screening and told the audience he’d intended to make a film that would honor Smith’s music and that he intentionally de-emphasized the last year of his life and his death. After the drama and accusations that littered the blogosphere following his death, the film comes as a sort of healing balm to soothe the collective wound and bring the focus on Smith back to the thing that was most dear to him: his music.
I was immediately struck by the Neptunian theme that permeated the film from Smith’s discomfort with live performance but love of writing and recording music, to his decent into drug use, and his persistent cries for help from his friends. One of the hallmarks of his chart is a tight T-Square between his Moon+Ascendant in Taurus, Neptune in Scorpio, and Mercury in Leo in the 4th. Let’s take a look at that more closely, knowing what we do about his life.
Smith’s Taurus Moon at 27° is tightly conjunct his Taurus Ascendant at 29°. That makes me recall a quote from a fan who wrote, “I know that when I saw him being a complete mess on stage last year, I wanted to take him home and take care of him.” (1) You can find similar posts on many Smith fan blogs. With the moon on the Ascendant, Smith couldn’t very well disguise his feelings. They were on display for all to see—and to empathize with—whether he wanted that or not. His vulnerability was a draw, and his fans formed a deep emotional connection to his music. And many experienced that connection as the desire to nurture him.
Tonight I just watched a film that pushed me out of my comfort zone. And to calm my nerves, I’m sitting in front of the computer late on a Saturday night, writing this as a kind of therapy. The film is the very dark “comedy” God Bless America, written and directed by warped comedian Bobcat Goldthwait. Now let me say this loud and clear before you rush out and watch the film: I don’t recommend the film, nor do I suggest you watch it! In fact, take my advice and don’t. My own interest was piqued when I first saw the trailer, but in that can’t-turn-away-from-a-car-wreck sort of way. The images were shocking but I also instantly noticed their relevance to the current transit of Uranus through Aries. So I chose to watch it because I was really curious to see how the film’s release played out in the larger culture.
I expected there to be a lot of press around the film’s release, including protests and angry dissent. But the release was relatively uneventful. In fact, after seeing the pre-release trailer in some art-house theater, I never saw mention of the film again, and forgot about it entirely until the mass shootings of 2012 started. And for reasons which will soon become apparent, I was instantly reminded.
In short, God Bless America is the story of a middle-aged male and a teenage female who embark on a violent killing spree, randomly shooting people who “just piss them off.” Some of their main targets are right-wing pundits and radicals, and they also take direct aim at pop culture, shooting participants on an American Idol-style reality TV show.
After watching this film I became fascinated with how markedly the director was tuned in to the zeitgeist. He couldn’t have known that shooting sprees were about to become even more of a prominent fixture in our culture just after his film’s release. And yet he was clearly already deeply in touch with the archetypal energies that were brewing even before any of the dramatic shooting incidents of 2012 took place. Because of that, this film is prophetic and even more deeply disturbing than it would have been in any other context.
So let’s take a closer look.