Saturn’s last hurrah in Scorpio until 2041 is from June 14 – September 17, 2015. What lessons are left to learn?
(Warning: This post touches on some pretty “controversial” topics. That’s because we’re talking about Scorpio. And Saturn. So, we just had to go there.)
On October 6, 2012, taskmaster Saturn landed in Scorpio, the zodiac’s notorious sex sign. Structure and seduction — um, aren’t those contradictory forces? Needless to say, the blending of these two energies has been a cosmic cold shower at times, a clinical pamphlet on the birds and bees rather than a sultry Snapchat with, say, a Senator (glug).
Saturn moved into Sagittarius on December 23, 2014—but its tour of Scorpio wasn’t QUITE finished. From June 14-September 17, 2015, structured Saturn will make its final backtrack through Scorpio (it’s retrograde until August 1), before leaving us for the long haul. That means the world has one final round of lessons to learn, Scorpio style, this summer.
Saturn is the personal trainer planet, the square-jawed life coach who blows the whistle on our bad habits and pushes us to do ONE. MORE. REP. so we can build a strong muscle. Saturn is cruel to be kind and the sign it’s touring will show the areas of life where we are getting a good worldwide ass kicking. The end justifies the means however, as Saturn helps us make massive leaps through structure, hard work and discipline.
In Scorpio for the past two years, Saturn has been bringing some tough lessons around sex, intimacy and power. Scorpio operates on intuition and the purest form of lust. It’s the sign that governs permanent bonding, shared resources, jealousy and obsession. (Nothing light and fluffy here, folks.) Saturn in Scorpio has suppressed our animal instincts at times AND simultaneously turned up the volume on them forcing us to examine our raw urges and redraw our lines. The past two years have also brought some pretty revolutionary shifts in our cultural dialogues about sex, intimacy, permission, and the roles we play in bed. As the heavy-hitting planet prepares to move on to Sagittarius on September 17, it’s fitting to reflect on these developments and how they’ve affected us all.
TINDER TURNS UP THE HEAT
In September 2012, just a few weeks before Saturn entered Scorpio, Tinder officially launched and broke the virtual dating universe. Gone were the hours wasted crafting a compelling match.com profile (Likes: Radiohead, pork belly and hot yoga. Dislikes: Justin Bieber, gluten-free anything, suburbia…yawn) only to be disappointed when meeting the author of those cleverly worded flirtations for an insipid round of drinks.
In a truly Scorpionic way, Tinder created a shameless selection process based on animal attraction. Some may argue that this was a step back in human awareness. Did Tinder pull back the curtain on the shallow lows our world had sunk into? Or did it bring an eye-opening reality check that when it comes to our mating processes we really are ruled by the same instincts as a bonobo or wildebeest.
Studies show a clear link between sex hormones and physical appearance. Higher testosterone will carve a Clooney-like jawline, while greater estrogen levels will craft a heart-shaped face the likes of Miranda Kerr’s. While we CAN go beyond our base urges, our nether regions aren’t quite as evolved. We also read a person’s vitality through a quick glance of their appearance — yep, survival of the fittest is still operating in our Tinderfied brains. It takes less than thirteen milliseconds to decide whether or not we find someone attractive. Through Tinder, we respond to core desire through the function of a right swipe. In many ways this IS very Saturn in Scorpio. Let’s stop denying that physical attraction matters too, even though what we find attractive can span a wide range.
The Tinderscape also removed some of the myths that women just want love and men are only after sex. No, equal opportunity objectification may not be the end goal to strive for as a human race. But this round of Saturn in Scorpio has certainly made it easier for women to “just do it” without all the baggage of shame, Madonna-whore paradoxes, and pretending to be after the white picket fence fantasy in moments when we want what author Erica Jong described as “the zipless fuck.”
SAFER AND SAFER SEX
The last time Saturn visited Scorpio was in the early 1980s when the AIDS crisis thrust safe sex conversations into the zeitgeist and teen pregnancy rates were on the rise. Once Saturn blew the lid off these issues, we were forced to deal. Condom bowls appeared on registers, bathrooms and even high schools in more progressive cities. Women’s contraception began developing beyond the pill (although we would personally like to block out all memories from the 90s of the complicated Today Sponge extractions.)
In October 2012, when Saturn entered Scorpio for the first time in nearly thirty years, the prescription drug Truvada had just been approved by the FDA. Truvada radically reduces the chance of HIV infection if taken within three days of possible exposure, a new kind of “morning after pill.” Among gay men, who were the hardest hit by the AIDS crisis of the 80s, Truvada has created a sexual revolution, albeit a controversial one. New York Magazine published a piece on the drug’s influence called “Sex Without Fear” detailing this shift in the community. This advance has Saturn in Scorpio’s fingerprints all over it.
Although Planned Parenthood continues to catch fire, teen pregnancy rates dropped to an all time low during this round of Saturn in Scorpio. Rates have been steadily declining since the 90s — something we can chalk up to the last round of Saturn in Scorpio’s safe sex campaigns. In September of 2014, The American Academy of Pediatrics published a report recommending LARCs (Long Acting Removable Contraceptives, aka, the IUD) as the first line of defense against adolescent pregnancy. So much for those abstinence campaigns, says practical Saturn in Scorpio.
NO MEANS NO: CAMPUS ACTIVISM AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT
After a nauseating era of “smush rooms” and spray-tanned, drunken Jersey Shore hookups getting sky-high ratings, Saturn in Scorpio simply HAD to intervene. The weightier side of sexual politics, we’ve seen the movement AGAINST rape culture grow since Saturn entered Scorpio in fall 2012. Sure, there’s a long way to go before the “no means no” concept really sinks in. But with Saturn in Scorpio the fight against sexual assault has increasingly been in the media spotlight.
A leader in the movement is Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, who reported being raped by a classmate on the first day of her sophomore year. When Columbia’s administration did not punish her perpetrator, Sulkowicz began hefting her mattress around the campus 24/7. She plans to do so until her assailant is expelled. Her bold activism has led to a worldwide response. On October 29, 2014, the National Day of Action spawned a global demonstration with over 10,000 students in 130 universities around the world dragging out mattresses to join the protest again sexual assault.
THE BEY & JAY SAGA: STAND BY YOUR MAN
If Scorpio insists on anything it’s the unflagging, “I’d catch a grenade for ya” brand of loyalty. And Saturn in Scorpio certainly put relationships to the test over the past two years. Exactly how honest ARE we being when we pledge to stand by our mates during the “for worse” part of the vows? As the glow of the honeymoon phase fades and our unresolved childhood issues take the helm, how do couples keep their soulful sexiness alive? The answer is not as linear as one might think. To wit, we observed Beyonce’s relationship trajectory during Saturn in Scorpio — pop culture’s most reflective mirror of this cosmic phenomenon.
After giving birth to Blue Ivy Carter the year that Saturn moved into Scorpio, Beyonce was quick to bring her pre-prego version of sexy back (frankly we think she was hot every step of the way). She hit the gym for 90-minute workouts and learned how to pole dance like a pro so she could surprise the world and tantalize her husband with her steamiest work yet. The December 2013 Visual Album dropped right in the middle of Saturn’s tour de Scorpio. A quick flash of her Partition video is more than enough to entrance and arouse, or inspire one to race to the nearest S Factor studio for Queen B tutorials.
While we were all giddy at the thought of this still crazy in love couple, trouble in Bey and Jay paradise ensued shortly after the Visual Album dropped. First there was the Solange smackdown in the elevator in the spring of 2014, sparking unconfirmed speculation that the Brooklyn-born rapper may have strayed. Then, the (disconcertingly named) On The Run tour, where the wedded performers seeming so distant that divorce rumors were sparked. Would they split once the tour wrapped? Uh, nope. In September Mr. and Mrs. Carter renewed their vows.
As far as Saturn in Scorpio is concerned, this is simply an illustration of moving towards a deeper level of love. Saturn in Scorpio favors the erotic over the erogenous. While Tinder may have revealed the overpowering emphasis physical attraction still has on getting us to Date # 1, the way we work with our gifts is what creates the staying power. When the “new relationship energy” wears off, how do couples like the Carters REALLY keep the fires burning? That’s what we believe they are learning now. Beyonce’s efforts — private lapdance lessons and singing paeans to the early days of lust — seemed to cool things down with her husband rather than heat them up. Saturn in Scorpio wants us to dig deeper and bare our souls; to actually be vulnerable instead of just looking like gorgeous sexual creatures. That what makes the “click” stick.
Something happened in the private files of Bey and Jay that might have involved a sexual attraction (or even a dalliance) to someone besides the world’s most gorgeous woman. We’ll never know. But in true Saturn in Scorpio style, they seem to be working it out privately instead of through vitriolic Tweets and the advice of people OUTSIDE the relationship. Their saga begs the question: is some form of cheating the inevitability of marriage? Do wandering eyes and boredom ensue, even after rolling around on the beach in a bodysuit a la the Drunk In Love Beyonce?
According to advice columnist, podcaster and general sexpert Dan Savage, the answer is more often yes than no.
Savage is married and, in his words, “monaga-mish.” He and his husband of over ten years have at times — and with clear permission from the other — opened up their relationship and explored sexually with others. While this solution won’t work for everyone, to pretend that wedding vows will put an end to all other attractions is a myth for most human beings. Saturn in Scorpio prefers a more matter-of-fact dialogue about our raw, animal nature. “Let’s be mature about the fact that we’ll want to screw other people throughout the course of our union.” Discussing sexual desire doesn’t mean acting upon it — trust is a cornerstone of all things Scorpio too. But couples who can admit to their lusty nature instead of tamping it down to be a “good spouse” may stand a better chance at keeping their attraction to EACH OTHER alive.
Maybe it was Laverne Cox’s searing role on Orange Is The New Black, or maybe it was just time, but Saturn in Scorpio has cracked open the vault a little wider for trans culture. Beyond the camp of (Scorpio) RuPaul’s Drag Race, OITNB delves deeper into the complex relationship between unconditional love and gender politics. Cox’s character Sophia Burset remains married to the same woman both before and after transitioning — a heartening message that Saturn in Scorpio can get down with. In September 2014, Amazon Studios unveiled Transparent, a scripted comedy-drama starring Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor, that revolves around a Los Angeles family who discovers that their father, Mort, is transgendered. Gender is moving beyond simply male and female with Saturn in Scorpio at the helm.
We also saw the Supreme Court strike down the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional, a revolutionary stepping-stone on the path to marriage equality. Just this October, the Catholic Church under the governance of Sagittarius Pope Francis made a (still flawed) gesture of acceptance towards gay members of the church. Saturn’s progress doesn’t come overnight, but these decrees are at least heading in the right direction.
With Saturn rounding out its tour of Scorpio on September 17, 2015 we should all be feeling a little bit wiser and more in command of our sexual identity. Saturn in Scorpio has certainly shown us that Fifty Shades Of Grey can refer to more than the BDSM antics of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. What turns us on can be layered and complex. Some matters — like discussions about commitment and desire — might be best handled privately, while others such as slut-shaming, permission politics and sexual assault are being called into the cultural dialogue instead of tucked away in our vaults of self-flagellation.
As Saturn prepares to move on to Sagittarius again on September 17, we’ll be gearing up for lessons in the areas of life that the Archer rules over: publishing, international travel, cross-cultural relationships, entrepreneurial ventures and education. Will the school system be revamped by December 2017? Will net neutrality be upheld, allowing the digital publishing landscape to continue in its largely unregulated state? Will the exposure of police brutality advance us in the fight for racial equality? Tune in and find out (and read our predictions on Saturn in Sagittarius here). In the meanwhile, ready the Red Room because Saturn’s leave of Scorpio will unplug some bottled up passion. Summer lovin’ CAN happen so fast…