2016 Retrospective: The Saturn-Neptune Square


An image we can start with for the Saturn-Neptune square is some large rock, a boulder maybe, being pummeled continuously by ocean waves. This is a boulder that has taken a bit of time to form into its existence: this boulder is our reality. The ocean is Reality with a capital R, some greater, vaster force. And as the ocean takes out pieces of the boulder and begins to disintegrate it with the collision, from the boulder’s reality perspective, maybe something quite brutal is occurring. Likewise, the more transpersonal love (Neptune) that one accesses, the more that one can begin to address and dissolve stuck, stagnant, repressed parts of oneself and by extension, the world. One thing that became clear during the Saturn-Neptune square is that compassion and empathy for oneself and others can be brutally won.

Alternately, had you found yourself from the Ocean’s perspective first, surfing, riding the top of some ecstatic wave; the boulder is a place where suddenly, in the middle of a fantasy, you had found yourself hitting an extreme wall with impact. Maybe your dreams were crushed; maybe your hope in humanity was deeply challenged, maybe everything you thought was real became some bizarre hangover as you woke up, head spinning and heart sinking.

Saturn in Sagittarius squaring Neptune in Pisces brings a direct collision between conditioned or believed reality and ultimate Reality. These two storylines interact all the time. Neptune as a force is a mystical Reality, it is a space in which projections of what reality is can be manifested into form (Saturn) for a time. Have you ever watched something wash away within you, a false and limiting belief, and some kind of sweet calm and feeling of spiritual connection rush over you, easily? In a meditation, lying in bed with someone, in a dream? The thing with the Saturn-Neptune square though is that this relationship between conditioned reality and some vaster, mysterious force of Reality was occurring by the energy of crisis – not a gentle or sweet awakening, but a volcanic awakening. The square implied between Sagittarius and Pisces, at this level was straddling the last quarter phase of the square aspect, meaning there is a crisis of knowing that the current structures/status quo is outdated, but not knowing yet what to replace it with. In whatever permutation of circumstance this occurred, one’s bedrock of reality was shaken this year by crisis and cataclysm, leaving some kind of temporary but disorienting emptiness in its wake.

Saturn, on the mundane level at least, implies that if we follow certain guidelines or a certain track, that a certain result will be yielded. With Neptune though, the ocean simply erases the track. It challenges temporal reality with impermanence and infinity (think of a sand mandala being blown away in the wind), and yet also offers the opportunity to discover a new surf. In the moments of having one’s projected track obliterated, and by whatever circumstances manifested to do that, there is a period of chaos and disillusionment: struggling with the questions of why did this happen. I don’t want to get into a story of “this is for our own good” because while that may be true in some bigger picture ways, it also evokes for me memories of Saturn’s troubled manifestations in humanity over centuries of punishment-rooted belief systems, and control by force. I don’t want to say that our suffering was to build character, though it may do that too. I want to say that the weather patterns of the cosmos correlated with an intense collision of forces, and we felt it because we are One with it. It’s like we met the part of our reality where we’d built a house on the sea, and the sea swallowed the house. When we built the house, the sea was far in the distance or maybe we weren’t even aware of the sea at all. In the current moment, we deal with the rubble of the destroyed house and all of that grief. In the bigger picture, it is being shaped by the ocean that allows outdated structures within Psyche to be washed away. And because it was Saturn playing with Neptune, and not say, Mercury (which could have left all this in thoughts and theoreticals), this storyline got workshopped into our actual reality. Disillusionment and despair and grief became very real experiences of 2016. So did spiritual heights and seeing past the veil, seeing calcified parts of our lives melt away.

This transit had the momentum to make fantasies into reality, and to let those fantasies crash and disintegrate once more. A person can identify as a spiritual seeker or not be interested at all, but regardless, they are coming up with fantasies of how reality operates as well as experiencing reality directly and forming stories and beliefs, subconsciously or consciously, that get conditioned into a person’s experienced reality. Saturn in Sagittarius will represent those beliefs, (“The Universe is inherently benevolent; everything is working out for me, // No one ever really loves me, just pretends they do to get something from me, // I have to do this thing or be this person to be worthy of love, etc.), and Neptune in Pisces will play them out onto a projector screen that is our reality, and the drama ensues. The crisis implied by this transit is where are our beliefs actually in alignment with Reality, and where can the differences be workshopped?

Necessarily, it doesn’t matter how “spiritual” a person is, Saturn in Sagittarius square Neptune in Pisces implied that there was more ocean than there was a container for it, and so we were all workshopping this. When Saturn is aware that a structure is not right anymore but it’s everything it’s ever known, a natural experience that results is depression or grief. Neptune in positive states can manifest as ecstasy and a total high, feeling at one with everything, but it can also be disillusionment and disconnection, feeling like everything keeps slipping away form one’s grasp, that nothing is possible, that everything defeats you – a mood of total despair. A purpose of this transit between Saturn and Neptune, if I can project one, may be to create a container or a functional reality that can better flow the vast channels of Neptune. Personally and globally. And it may be asking for greater responsibility around how one gets high – developing more authority over that. So instead of juicing up the Neptune flow with some kind of immediate intoxicant, Saturn is asking: design your very life so that your reality becomes a fantasy. Get high sustainably!

That resolution though, is the integration of the crisis. The crisis of Saturn and Neptune this year was itself addressing the hardest edges of our belief systems and philosophies through our experienced reality. It’s as though our life was a ship at sea and the storm came, showing us where our ship was able to hold up and where we had holes that started to sink us. And this crisis also implied that some waves would knock us back so hard or so deeply that getting up or treading water itself becomes the struggle. How can we think about designing a dream life and looking cool on Instagram like everyone else when we’re literally just struggling to not want to die? (Read more below about examples of this, this particular storyline is so Saturn-Neptune square.)

If you want to reflect more on the Saturn-Neptune square past this article, I suggest researching the archetypes of Saturn and Neptune as well as Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces. And then, meditating on them. Meditating on the archetypes is an infinite process – new insights are always yielded. If you imagine these archetypes in your consciousness colliding, you will start to tune in and feel deeper meanings of this planetary collision relevant to your own experience of it.

Manifestations and Considerations of Saturn in Sagittarius:

  • Neutrally – how beliefs about how reality works are structured & the real consequences that ensue.
  • An adventurous reality – reality expanding because of beliefs that are expansive, and no longer limiting.
  • Rigidity or dogma regarding belief systems taking center stage, religious extremism and racism.
  • Cultural differences related to tribe/race & consensus reality trying to grapple with this. Working to discover the truth of the realities within culture that are racially based, versus the tendency to ignore, downplay, distort or deny that there are systematic social constructs based on race. Multiple conversations around race unfolding that are tinted by people’s beliefs about what race is, and how race is expressed in the culture.
  • Different experiences that are possible based on a tribe or culture’s structure of reality. My example for this is that there are Spirit realities that are possible to have on an island gathered around a fire, that you can’t have inside of a skyscraper in New York City, and vice versa. Reality is truly so mutable, and we access certain parts of it depending on how our lives or culture is structured.
  • Consequences of expansion and growth – the need to take responsibility for more facets of reality than before, and learning by experience.
  • Considering how one is aligning with natural law, nature/the Earth/the cosmos, as well as the consequences of not. (Personally and collectively, think about #noDAPL)
  • Discovering how one is supported by natural law more than by human law, discovering and envisioning more liberating forms of governance. Discovering natural authority versus patriarchal authority.
  • Likewise, being deeply entrenched in manmade/patriarchal law, trying to control nature, governments using racial tensions as capitol for amassing power.
  • Inner-authority, boosted mood, a sense of buoyancy, that comes with living according to one’s truth – and the process of this being very much a seeking and a quest that improves incrementally over time and experience and some level of effort.
  • The kind of authority we see in truth, and the kind of false-but-real-via-consequence-authority of lies that people believe.
  • The ways that being socially successful within one’s broader culture or sub-culture of choice can be an authentic expression of self-esteem and belonging, as much as it can be posturing, bullshitting, and keeping up appearances, pretending to be a certain way. With Saturn in Sagittarius, it’s really coming into inner and outer dialogue – is my public image, is how I front in the world, is how I relate with my community, authentic, or not? Even though authenticity has become a buzzword and something that seems marketable (so Saturn in Sagg), it can’t be faked at the bottom line, though it can be acted out as a costume.
  • As this plays out in corporate spheres even but also in the most personal way: is my life work, my career, authentic? How do I judge myself or my experience based off of this metric of authenticity? When does authenticity become a brand, and when is it actually real? The literal quest for authenticity.
  • The question of where does one’s truth fit into their culture/social group, and when does one experienced truth illicit a sense of shame, “I’m not allowed to be this way.”
  • The relationship between discipline and self-conditioning and personal expansion: how expanded freedom might be earned through effort or “hard work”.
  • The expansive, or limiting, potentials of being accepted/successful within tribe. Expansive in terms of happiness, networking, feeling good, having opportunities and resources, limiting in terms of maybe social or spiritual development (taking on an appearance to keep fitting in, versus following one’s own higher guidance and intuition). Workshopping this.
  • A particular brand of shame and judgement (Saturn correlates with shame) in the vibration of Sagittarius: shame around one’s ability to manifest into reality their vision or not, to be adventurous and free-spirited or not, as well as the potential for higher inquiry to unravel culturally conditioned shame. Again – maybe requiring education, higher learning, and questing, because the culture at hand is not offering it.

Implications and Manifestations of Neptune in Pisces:

  • Fantasy and glamor, magic, enchantment. Hopes, dreams, wishes. Magic sparkling glitter over what it touches.
  • Devotion.
  • Film and cinema: the projection of a reality that becomes reality (like watching a movie and forgetting you’re in the theater, because you are so mesmerized and drawn in by the film).
  • A force of the Universe that holds space for projections for meaning and Ultimate meaning: anything or anyone can be put on a pedestal and become Godlike, but if it is not actually the Ultimate, disillusionment can follow.
  • The ocean, waves, the surf.
  • Divine inspiration, feeling so totally connected with Source.
  • Divine discontent, feeling left behind or abandoned by Source, feeling lost at sea.
  • Disillusionment: the loss of dreams.
  • Escapism and intoxication.
  • Drinking straight from the elixir of the Gods: extreme, ecstatic inspiration and third-eye vision experiences: seeing what Reality is beyond what it is believed to be and feeling one with it, “in the cradle of Neptune”/in the womb of the Universe.
  • Gullibility, preciousness, naïveté, and innocence – all things which can be protected or abused.
  • The emotional states that are created based upon how we vibrate in alignment or out of alignment with the Oneness, with all of Creation, and how totally nebulous this process can be. I think of Homer’s Odyssey and the section of getting lost in the lotus fields – sometimes we are so intoxicated by something within life that we can’t see the bigger picture, there is a drunkenness about it. Yet the ultimate reality that Neptune suggests is in itself, intoxicating. We are deeply empowered, when it comes to Neptune, to find the Source/Ocean rather than identifying with the waves. But when we see the Ocean, the waves become something we can surf.
  • The spectrum of nebulousness/confusion and total clarity.
  • Compassion, empathy.
  • The deep understanding of suffering, and the desire to alleviate suffering.
  • Savior mentalities.

And what happens for us when, from Earth’s P.O.V., Saturn in Sagittarius collides at ninety degree angle to Neptune in Pisces? Some possibilities, and you may also meditate on the archetypes and how they correlate to your own life, and consider some of your own interpretations.

As a visual, here is a chart of just Saturn and Neptune at the moment of their last exact square:


  • A dynamic relationship, push-pull between the realization of fantastical, beautiful realities, and the crushing of those perceived realities. Sweetness, bitterness, tears.
  • Gaining wisdom and a deeper understanding of life and the bigger picture because a fantasy was compelling enough to draw one’s attention in – for example, getting to know deep, hidden parts of oneself only because one has fallen deeply in love.
  • Confrontations with the mystery resulting in stories about what that mystery means, and those stories creating more film projections into reality, i.e. endless looping between belief becoming reality and reality becoming belief and so on. The harshness of this transit creating some break in the loop, so actual change to reality can emerge, but leaving this looped track is painful.
  • Based on the belief that one would be “saved”, feeling abandoned, disillusioned and betrayed when that’s not how Reality objectively functions.


  • Working through projections/fantasies/images of how life “should” look – working through the levels of how we appear to “have it together” or construct images of being successful and glamorous, how the ability to manifest one’s dream is a kind of capitol and economic which carries with it social realities of both great potential and great distortion. (Genuine inspiration and uplifting, empowering others, setting wise boundaries from a compassionate places, versus “Ew, get your negative thinking away from me! You’re a bad manifester and you’re not invited to my exclusive party.”) Likewise, the imagination or projection of how one will be judged based on how good they are at being a fantasy, that happens on a internal level. (“I can only post status updates about my successes… it looks weak to talk about my real problems.”) & finding the containers to get support without feeling so publicly exposed, which may not be your Facebook wall – maybe specific friends, or maybe a private Facebook group, etc. Everyone’s kind of working through “what of my life can I share? What’s private? Who is going to judge me? Where is the boundary of how I can be loved?”
  • The yearning to be met/understood at one’s grief.
  • Deep sacrifice, up to the actual loss of lives, related to this storyline (think to all the disasters this year). When I’m talking about parts of reality being washed away, it can be so large as to wipe away an entire life. The grief and tragedy in this.
  • In a less total way than the previous point, parts of oneself being washed away, some deeply conditioned aspect of self built over time that larger-than-life experiences of this year managed to break. While this can be positive in many circumstances, the loss of that part of self is still a death, and still creates grief and mourning.
  • Experiencing more aspects of spiritual reality because of death or endings/finality in this layer of reality – for example, receiving messages from people who have passed on, or feeling the shift from physical life to non-physical life by feeling your passed loved ones around you, but in a different way than when they had a body.
  • Life experiences knocking one down, and feeling that it is extremely difficult to get back up, a process of treading water for a time. Feeling like one is drowning or staving off drowning.
  • A very potent kind of strength of character that emerges when a person has not just survived a cataclysm or personal crisis, but has really dealt with their whole life being like a stormy, relentless Ocean, and somehow gets up.
  • Humility and compassion increasing because of one’s experiences.
  • The boundaries between suffering blurs, in that it becomes more of a felt reality that another person’s healing and suffering are OUR suffering and healing, and while we can put up boundaries day-to-day to experience ourselves as individual beings and follow our own tracks, we still know on some level that we are connected to the whole. This being said, this does also relate to a storyline of creating beliefs to other/dehumanize or certain people as to keep them out.
  • Discovering the practical or expansive balance of how to be empathic and receptive as well as how to assert one’s own fire/life force/destiny. Perhaps even receiving experiences and inspirations this year to refine and shape one’s destiny, whether or not these experiences/inspirations felt good.
  • Having much of – or everything – you believed in or identified with, get washed away/get obliterated. Inherently there is the potential for something more to come in, but there is also the very real process of confronting an immediate emptiness. In this dynamic, the time of emptiness allows for the clarity/direction of a new container, so that what fills one’s now empty cup isn’t just the same thing one had before, but is something new.
  • Learning, by harsh experiences and necessity, to take responsibility for developing/protecting a previously innocent or naive aspect of oneself.
  • Encountering a vision of grand possibilities, decadent potentials: that are not attainable in a daily, integrated kind of way until one has paved a path to receive it. But one perceives it, like a glimmering. This tests faith and resolve in a sense, because now the vision of what is possible cannot be forgotten and one cannot just return to the old ways, but one isn’t quite sure how to get to the dreamy place yet. Through time and the discovery of practical choices that align with the dream, the dream can be reached. A big shark in the water though is the despair, disillusionment, the belief that the beautiful reality is not “possible” and therefore why even try?
  • Deeper levels of ecstasy and divine content available if one applies effort and constructs a receiving container – this requires lifestyle changes based off new visions of what is possible for one to feel or know in this life.
  • What if the limitations and obstructions in our path are actually benevolent? Like bumpers in bowling, specific to the track of our very own destiny? How do we let barriers defeat us prematurely? How do we flow around, re-route and cooperate with barriers? Why do we believe that limitations are inherently associated with punishment or unworthiness? When is limitation just a guideline setting us up to be in the perfect place at the perfect time? How does reality respond to and meet us at our faith, our authentic yearning for something greater, something more? When does longing become a force of gravity? How does faith alter the final result? What truly, is the difference between wishful thinking and knowing faith?

In Closing

Sometimes I wish I could write about my experiences of this year, both the ecstasy and grief that I met, but they are so incredibly vast in their story (Sagittarius) it’s hard to imagine keeping up with them in one cohesive narrative. I’ve just had to let it keep passing through me. I have felt on an emotional level that longing to share my story and be understood and have developed closer friendships as a result when I realized I could not or would not do this alone. At one point in my process, I was totally self-isolating, and had this belief I could only connect with new people once I had “healed” from this year’s extreme events, many of which I feel broke me and tuned me into other layers of myself and of reality, with an excruciating intermission between forms. My beautiful awesome friend with a Pisces Moon found out what was going on with me and was like, “You’re being a Spartan and punishing yourself. Why don’t you go out?” and then invited me out for drinks the next day, and encouraged me to make friends with strangers to get some separation and lightness from my experience, even though I felt like dying and compared my daily reality to Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill, until one day I maybe wouldn’t be struggling so hard but I didn’t know when that day would come. Everyday I tried everything I could think of to become happy again. (She smiled… “what if you are grinding it into a pebble?” and her eyes glimmered.) Her compassion really drew me out of my then-Saturnian state and created for me this revelation that the world was holding out on me as much as I was holding out on myself, that my judgements were all inside of me, and that there were plenty of people in the world willing to love me if I would love those parts of myself I deemed unworthy of love. I will say that to that effect, there is a great healing potential in stories and sharing them with people in our lives, and creating safe spaces for ourselves and others to process and share our truth. As the years pass, we will gain more clarity and perspective about how to talk about 2016. I will leave you with one last manifestation of the Saturn-Neptune square, which is that there are truly places of repression within ourselves and within our culture, that melt away and heal in the face of compassion and transpersonal love. I pray that the events of this year help us all to become more compassionate, kind and loving toward ourselves and one another. Truth and authenticity (Saturn in Sagittarius) actually lets the love in. Discovering the truth, however, is an ongoing quest, and as with Saturn, not without some “hard knocks”.

Many astrologers, myself included, believe that we sign up for our lives, and that there is truly a desire to meet our lives in a way that inspires growth. With that in mind, all of us contain some kind of warrior spirit energy which desired to meet the Saturn-Neptune square and 2016. What has it meant for you?

With so much love,

Sabrina Monarch

(Top image: Man Ray)

14095872_10154532336829312_605006490544395441_nSabrina Monarch is a soul-centered Evolutionary Astrologer who publishes weekly astrological forecasts. She has been collecting astrological experience for over a decade. She also enjoys yoga, hiking and creative writing. You can subscribe to receive her weekly forecasts by email here.


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