Recently in the United States was yet another mass shooting, and again at a school – this time in Oregon. Addressing the nation, President Obama said, “Somehow this has become routine. We’ve become numb to this.” Like so many major news events, the mass shooting has quickly become ‘yesterday’s news.’
To give this a broad astrological perspective, I want to bring in the upcoming Saturn-Neptune square, which has already been active in wide orb for a number of months. The square between Saturn and Neptune becomes exact for the first time on November 26, 2015, when Saturn in Sagittarius squares Neptune in Pisces. After that, exact squares will occur on June 17, 2016, and September 10, 2016. In other words, Saturn and Neptune will be active for quite a while.
Saturn is the planet of limits, rules, and restrictions. Saturn has a lot to do with work, in regard to responsibilities as well as accomplishments. Neptune is a planet of imagination and dreams. Neptune is the ocean, and from water emerges life. Our lives emerge from how we imagine and envision them. Neptune is the dream, in the way described by Norwegian poet Olav Hauge (born with Saturn square Neptune), in his poem “It’s the Dream”:
It’s the Dream
It’s the dream we carry in secret
that something miraculous will happen,
that it must happen—
that time will open
that the heart will open
that doors will open
that the rockface will open
that spring will gush—
that the dream will open,
that one morning we will glide into
some little harbor we didn’t know was there.
What does this have to do with the shootings in Oregon, and with the President’s response? One article I read about the Oregon shooter noted, “People like him have nothing left to live for.”
I feel this is more central to the issue of mass shootings than gun control, and bears directly on the Saturn-Neptune square. As I delved into research of previous Saturn-Neptune cycles in history, I noted a striking theme which presented itself in three different quotes from three very different sources, all under Saturn-Neptune aspects.
The first is from the movie “Dead Poets Society,” which premiered in 1989 at the start of our current Saturn-Neptune cycle. Robin Williams plays a teacher who passionately encourages his young students to immerse themselves in poetry and life. He says, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering—these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love—these are what we stay alive for.”
Similarly, back in 1936 at the Democratic National Convention (during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl), President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke: “An old English judge said, once upon a time: “Necessitous men are not free men.” Liberty requires opportunity to make a living—a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.”
Most recently, under the current Saturn-Neptune square, the Netflix show “sense8,” in which eight people from around the world suddenly find themselves emotionally and intellectually connected to each other, featured one character offering profound counsel to another by saying, “At a certain point I realized there’s a huge difference between what we work for and what we live for.”
Thus, when a reporter notes that a gunman had nothing left to live for, what is that saying about our culture?
The Saturn-Neptune cycle offers the opportunity to recognize the difference in our lives between what we work for (which refers to Saturn’s domain), and what we stay alive for (Neptune’s terrain), what makes life worth living. Perhaps they’re not so different for you. Work is work, and even when people love their work, there is more to life than work. Neptune offers endless imaginative possibilities for how we live our lives, separate from and outside of Saturn’s existing rules. When dreaming, the rules do not apply!
William Saroyan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, born with Saturn square Neptune in his chart, said, “In the time of your life, live.”
When President Obama notes that shootings have become routine and “we’ve become numb to this,” perhaps he’s presenting a country in which cold Saturn has taken hold, where limitations have cut off the possibilities for an extraordinary number of people, cut off the innate ability to imagine better lives … to dream. Saturn is in Sagittarius, a sign associated with not only education, but also with what brings meaning to our lives. As Saturn in Sagittarius squares Neptune in Pisces, we have the opportunity to loosen Saturn’s grip where it grips a little too tightly or controls a little too much, and imagine what it means to live—really live—a meaningful life.