Stroll down Memory Lane a bit with me, won’t you? Here are some sensory details to swell the scene:
Act I, scene i: June, 2003. A cheerfully sunlit but uncomfortably cramped metaphysical store in Honolulu’s quirky Kaimuki neighborhood, with crystals and towering bamboo plants cramming the windows and mounds of paperback books spilling out of their cases, stacked horizontally on the floor. A gentle ginger tomcat named Toby, who more than slightly resembled my own beach cat rescue, welcomed a hearty scratch under the chin. I sigh nervously and paw my way through storefront flyers announcing the meeting times of Reiki groups inviting the public to join them in their full moon meditations on the “Violet Flame of Saint Germain.” I giggle as I mentally devise doggerel verse on the fly using that rhyming couplet (“the Violet Flame of Saint Germain / Makes New Agers go INSANE”!)…cheap entertainment while I wait. Toby meows as if he’s accusing me of insolence by walking away from him and focusing my attention elsewhere.
It’s a return visit, as I’d stumbled upon the store for the first time only the week prior to give the store’s owner–a Midwestern Mainlander transplant like myself–my birth details so she could construct my natal chart.
“Well, well!” Cheryl the proprietor/resident astrologer, after adjusting her reading glasses upon the bridge of her nose, greets me by waving all 30-plus pages of my detailed natal chart printout in the air. “Come and sit down, Ana. This is gonna be fun! Would you like a cup of tea before we begin?”
I thank her for her hospitality and say, even though it’s over 90 degrees outside (the trade winds weren’t blowing that day; I remember how the air felt oppressive, hanging with a leaden weight), that I would love a cup of jasmine tea if she’s got any. Organized Cheryl (she has a Capricorn Ascendant, I find out later) pulls out a wooden tea chest and extracts two jasmine tea bags, as she was fancying a cup herself.
“Soooooo, yes. Virgo Sun and both Moon and Ascendant in Aquarius,” she begins with no preliminary remarks. “Very cerebral, intellectual. You live a lot in your head, don’t you?”
I nod, sipping my tea.
Cheryl flips a few pages into my report where my natal chart, in wheel form, explodes in an array of zig-zagging, interwoven colored fonts, showcasing the various conjunctions, trines, squares, and oppositions of the planets at the moment of my birth in Chicago. She traces her ridiculously long, fuschia-painted right index fingernail across the “pie slices” of my chart and starts tapping once she reaches the fifth one–my fifth house. “Yeah, I actually want to start talking about this first,” she says. “Saturn in your fifth house. This is a heavy placement,” she announces brusquely. She adjusts her eyeglasses, studying my face. And then: “Do you and your fiancé plan on having any kids?”
Let’s fast-forward a few years, shall we? To the icky months of my divorce process.
Act II, scene i: August, 2007. A subterranean Ifá temple somewhere in Chicago’s northwest side. I’m seated at a large wooden desk; opposite me, throwing the opele chain for my first-ever Ifá divination session, is the Babalawo who would come to be my oluwo, or godfather, in less than a year’s time.
Clang! The brass-and-kola-nut chain lands in a certain pattern on the desk. Binary code: I’s opposite II’s. The mathematics of it all makes my head spin. “Oturopon Meji,” the Babalawo announces. He narrows his eyes and studies my face. “You have a hard time relaxing,” he declares.
“Yes, that’s true. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me to ‘lighten up,'” I inform him.
“That’s not your nature; you’re very high-strung,” he says. “Tell me: do you have kids?”
“Do you want to?”
“No. I’ve never had a desire to and I don’t see that changing. I can’t relate to women at all when they talk about their ‘biological clocks ticking,'” I say, protracted eye roll intact.
“Well, you’re young; you could change your mind, you never know–especially if the right guy comes along someday. I know, you don’t want to think about it–you’re getting divorced–but keep your mind open.”
Protracted eye roll: the sequel.
“However,” he continues, “Ifá in this odu is saying that you’ll be more likely to have a complicated pregnancy if you do decide to have kids someday. The odu says that a major ebo of four-leggeds would be required so the Orisha can ensure you carry the baby or babies–I think you’ll have twins–to term and have a safe delivery.”
“I don’t want kids,” I say with steely resolve.
I do attribute my childless-by-choice lifestyle and my high-strung temperament/difficulty relaxing to my natal Saturn in the fifth house placement. In some ways, Saturn–and when I speak of His energies, I’m referring as much to the God as I am to the planetary body named after Him–can serve as an inhibiting force, a cosmic version of Gandalf bellowing “You shall NOT PASS!” Let’s face it: His scythe is a heck of a lot more imposing than a wizard’s staff!
Saturn the wet blanket. Saturn the Brainy Smurf of the planetary hosts, throwing the cold waters of Reason and Limitations on the other Smurfs’ hedonistic picnic of unrealistic expectations of grandiosity, of excess. That’s how I’ve thought of Him and this fifth house placement for years. What a shitty planetary placement to carry around in this lifetime.
Is there anything good that can be said of this placement? Well, for one thing, since the Fifth House also rules Creativity in a general sense, not just the biological act of procreating, I’ve found Saturn’s placement to be useful in cultivating a disciplined creative practice. For example, as a published poet, it’s been very helpful to me to set aside a specific time each day to write (as you probably may have guessed from my Virgo Sun/Aquarius Moon & Ascendant combo, I’m a morning person and my peak hours of creativity in the day are always before noon). As with flexing and building your physical muscles with a daily exercise routine, I enjoy setting aside time each day to flex my creative muscles and write no matter what. I schedule my “me time” as I would an important meeting with colleagues or clients at work: something I adhere to without deviation.
I also take comfort knowing that when it comes to Saturn in the 5th House, I’m in some very good company with artists, writers, musicians, and revolutionaries, folks ranging from Mozart to Jim Morrison, Bruce Lee, to Bill Gates and yes, even Ms. Shake-Those-Hips-and-Pout-Those-Lips Shakira!
So that’s how I “cope” with Saturn in my fifth house. To paraphrase the title of an astrology book, I’ve come to look at an old “devil” in a new way.
What about you, gentle reader? What planetary placements do you wish you weren’t born with but you’ve learned to work to your advantage? I’d love to hear from you!