Saturn Cycles: Mapping Changes in Your Life, by
Wendell C. Perry, Llewellyn Publications, 2009.
Wendell Perry has set out to show "how Saturn creates life stories" not by analyzing the meaning of Saturn reflected through the signs and houses, but by giving us real examples of how individuals' encounters with their Saturn transits have shaped their lives at critical junctures.
Saturn cycles, says Perry, "describe the intersection between our choices, our natural abilities, and our will with the remorseless forces of history, circumstance, and fate." To help us understand these cycles, he has provided charts and life histories of 24 well-known individuals, whom he divides into "saints" (those who have handled Saturn transits well) and "sinners," those whom Saturn has overmastered.
Among the saints are the Dalai Lama, Bruce Lee, Oprah Winfrey, and Gloria Steinem. Of Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, Perry comments:
For most of us, the earliest transits of Saturn are rather mundane.... They concern the inevitable transformation from childhood to adulthood and have little influence on our standing in the world outside our home. This is not the case for the Dalai Lama. With the first contact of Saturn to one of the angles of his horoscope in 1937, he became a public figure [when he was recognized as the reincarnated Dalai Lama].
Going on to discuss the Dalai Lama's forced flight from Tibet at the age of 16 following the Chinese invasion of Lhasa, Perry offers this insight:
Complete surrender was unthinkable—and resistance, particularly for an unworldly, pacifist, sixteen-year-old, was equally out of the question. But this was not the choice Tenzin was facing. What Saturn was telling him during this passage was that his country was already lost. His choice was how to deal with this loss.
Which the Dalai Lama did, successfully, going on to become not only the spiritual, moral and temporal leader of his people, but an author, international emissary of peace, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
A "sinner," however, does not succeed in handling life's challenges quite as well. Janis Joplin, for example, although she achieved fame as one of the greatest blues singers of all time, died young from a self-inflicted overdose of drugs. Joplin's "failure to answer Saturn's call" to relinquish her self-destructive habits and the hardened veneer that kept others at a distance "brought [her] to the lowest point in her life," and soon thereafter, to end her life.
Perry concludes the book with a brief description of Saturn "at work"—Saturn on the Ascendant, Descendant, Midheaven, and I.C.—and Saturn conjunct, opposing, and square the natal Saturn. Each of these short sections is laced with specific examples drawn from the 24 cases that Perry has analyzed closely.
This is an informative, well-organized, easy-to-read book. It will be of interest to anyone wanting to understand the workings of Saturn in their own chart. Beginning students of astrology will find it illuminating. I can imagine it also being quite useful to practicing astrologers, as it offers a wealth of specific examples and life stories to illustrate and explain clients' Saturn processes.