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Saturn: the Sequencer Date Published: by Michael Erlewine
Bio: Michael Erlewine

Author Michael Erlewine Besides being the author/astrologer behind our top-selling Astro*Talk, TimeLine, and Friends and Lovers report programs, Michael is the man who founded Matrix back in the late '70s. Michael and his brother Stephen Erlewine (Stephen is still head of all astrological programming for Matrix) built Matrix into the leading producer of astrology software.

For many years Michael lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he was much in demand as a counseling astrologer specializing in relationship and vocational advice. He also taught astrology at local schools and colleges, working with groups of as many as 1,200 people.

Michael is also known for his entrepreneurial drive which, in addition to Matrix, led him to create the All Music Guide - the largest music database in the world - and the All Movie Guide, as well as several award-winning websites, including

Michael also founded the Heart Center Library, the largest astrological library in North America that is open to the public. He remains curator of the works contained in this library, tapping this resource for one of his pet projects - a complete astrological encyclopedia.

Today Michael lives in the northern Michigan community of Big Rapids with his wife of 33 years and his family. He still does occasional private astrological counseling as people from around the world continue to seek his advice.

Those interested in a personal reading by Michael may contact him at:



Astrology is all wrapped up with the concept of time. The great and small cycles of the planets provide the guide for most of what passes for time in our world. It is often commented how many astrologers are also musicians. Music, too, is all about time. In Tibetan Buddhism, the study of astrology is part of what is termed the Kalachakra Tantra. Kalachakra means the wheel or cycle of time. Even beginning astrology students know that Saturn is the lord or prince of time. Saturn rules the material world. An understanding of Saturn and its sequence of time is essential to any serious study of astrology.

The return of Saturn to its natal position around the age of 30 (29.4 years helio) is an important astrological event and what is called a climacteric year. "Never trust anyone over thirty" is, by now, a well-known slogan. The completion of ANY planetary cycle, especially for the first time around, marks a very significant change in our life and consciousness. The return of Mercury in the chart of an infant at three months marks the onset of what has been termed "adult awareness." Around this time the child's motor responses switch from reflex to voluntary. He or she begins to see in color! The return of Venus at some 7 1/2 months is when the baby first can discriminate between itself and its mother. A duality occurs that allows appreciation.

At one year, the Earth return, most children get up and begin to walk. The "terrible twos" (18 months) marks the Mars return, when baby discovers emotions and struggles for independence — looking outward for the first time! And at 12 years, Jupiter returns, marking the onset of adolescence and the beginning of a real sense of time. After the Jupiter return, the individual begins to pick up on and to monitor the most definite of cycles, that of Saturn.

The most dramatic return has to be the return of Saturn to its place around 29.4 years of age. In a very real sense, it marks the end of time for an individual. And here we begin to dip into what is called esoteric astrology, an area not well understood even by most professional astrologers. I have always been fascinated by it.

Saturn, the great marker of time, drags out its wheel or cycle for a full thirty years. During all of this time, Saturn is tracing out new territory (for any given individual) against the backdrop of the zodiac. It is going around for the first time, with no repeats thus far. We have all seen the beer commercial that tells us that "You only go around once!" Astrologers wouldn't agree with that, but we do know that first cycle or circle is an important one.

The first cycle of Saturn fills the life with a sense of the future, leading toward somewhere.

The first cycle of Saturn (first 30 years) fills the life with a sense of the future, leading toward somewhere. The great time measurer, Saturn, keeps time for us like a metronome. We measure our life against its constant ticking and the beat appears to lead us toward the future. This regular sequencing of events plays our life out like a movie score — a great and constant heart beating within us, giving birth to the moment. Saturn is concerned with the external and the sequence of external events that provide our particular set of circumstances. We come to depend upon its very regular movement. We are cradled inside this first Saturn cycle, like a baby in the womb. It never occurs to us that this very constant beating, like the surf washing up against the shore, could ever change, much less lose meaning for us. But change it does.

Very few of us are prepared for what happens on the esoteric plane at the Saturn return. Saturn does complete the circle of the zodiac and begins to repeat itself — go around a second time. However, as most of us are wrapped up in time and its circumstances, Saturn's return marks a dramatic change in our life — how we conceive of time itself.

The image I would like to convey to you is that of a child leaving its mother's womb. With the Saturn return, we pass beyond the grasp or cycle of time and walk out into eternity. Like a ship leaving port, we sail straight out into the blue. The image of the astronaut floating out there is space on the end of a thin tether is a good one. We are born beyond gravity or the grave and begin a new weightless or enlightened existence. Sound strange? Perhaps, but this is a fair description of the actuality. Here is an esoteric truth, yet a truth so exact and real that it boggles the mind. Each of us passes beyond the grip of Saturn and floats beyond the grave (gravity) into middle age.

As Saturn turns to repeating itself and begins to go over ground that we have already covered in this life, our absolute fascination with it fades. In the middle of life, we begin to stir and wake up to a life beyond time. There are many names for this experience in the occult literature. Perhaps the most common is the term "silence." We are said to enter the silence. Perhaps, entering the silence is nothing more than stepping beyond the noise or music of time. Can you hear the silence? Emptiness? However you may wish to spell it, we do go beyond time, and not at life's long end, but right in the prime or middle or life.

Another of the great esoteric truths is that death is only an illusion. Or, if we must think in terms of death, then the death that all speak of comes not at the end of life, but smack dab in the middle of life. The so-called prime of life is also the passage from within life (within the grip of time) to beyond time and into a new life — a threshold, a passing beyond or passing on. This is where the phrase "born again" comes from.

This great event, and the rites of this momentous passage from within time to without or beyond time, is the Saturn return around the age of thirty years. And this passage follows on the esoteric or psychological level the exact same sequence of events found in the physical birth of the in fact. In other words, there is the birth canal ... the moving down it ... the birth of the head ... the birth of the body, and then moving free of the mother, etc. Even the birth of the placenta!

Each of us peeks out and steps beyond time at about thirty years of age. However, very few of us are prepared for this event, can witness to it, or have the least idea of what is happening to us. We lack the training needed to prepare us to experience this great initiation with consciousness or awareness. Most of us are numbed by the sheer magnitude of what happens. It can take years to register this momentous event. Some never remember or put it all together and become aware of what is so obvious.

Let me slow down and repeat the main idea being presented here: All planet cycles measure our life and are important objects of study. Yet time, and the kind of event consciousness that the everyday world measures, belongs to the sphere of the planet Saturn. Saturn measures and rules time, circumstances, and the sequencing of everyday events. Therefore, the cycle of Saturn, and its return at around the age of thirty years marks an important esoteric event or initiation. This event is so profound and pervasive — SO VERY OBVIOUS — that there is little or no conscious recognition of it. Instead, there are endless innuendoes and oblique references to this great passage from within to without, from having time to having none. There is a constant subconscious murmur taking place, a hum of reference to this initiation, this event in the lives of each of us.

What I am saying is: Time stops at thirty. The trickle of new events that have led us toward the future ceases when Saturn begins to repeat itself. A great hush falls over our life as we sail beyond the circle or cycle of time into what can only be called eternity. Like the astronaut pushed free of the mothership, each of us spins off into space, turning and floating ... turning and floating ... trying to figure out what has happened.

When time repeats itself, it stops for all practical purposes. No more does it call and beckon us with the promise of an endless linear progression. We each begin to experience the circularity of it all, whether consciously or unconsciously. Under Saturn's seal or cycle (under age 30), we are led toward the future as to some place that we might achieve or get to. At thirty, we begin to realize that our mode of travel, our way of life, is a goal in itself — the way to go. In other words, the place we are traveling to becomes our mode of travel, the way we get there. Shakespeare might have said "Call what carriage as ye may, your hearse." Chuck Berry said it: "No particular place to go."

The movement I am describing here is from within the womb of time to outside (without) or beyond time. Once outside, we begin to view those still within time as babies asleep in the womb, while we are born free of time for the first time in our lives.

A palindrome is a word, verse, or sentence that reads the same forwards as backwards. "Able was I ere I saw Elba" is a famous one that refers to Napoleon. The fascination with palindromes becomes an obsession at the level of the esoteric. There is a point when each of us begins to read life backward as well as forward — no difference!

Better yet, we begin to read life as a circle or cycle. The Saturn return stands out like a great beacon in our lives. It is what is called a climacteric year. There is a great stream of souls leading up to this event and another stretching off into middle-age beyond this time. The younger souls can but imagine what someone is talking about who has taken the Saturn return initiation. Their life is filled by the incessant hum and drum of the Saturn cycle laying down each beat and measure of time. It fills the mind up with activity. A few souls, with a thirst for the esoteric, can peer beyond the womb of time for snapshots of what is to come — glimpses of eternity. The older souls can tell the younger of what is coming, but most young listeners cannot hear that well.

And, we might ask, what is the point of hearing or prefacing such a natural event? Why not let nature take her course? There are many possible answers to this question. My own feeling is that once upon a time we were trained or prepared for esoteric events such as the Saturn return. We were prepared to experience it in a conscious way, to appreciate and know what it was that is happening to us at the time it happens rather than to piece together some story from hindsight many years afterward. What I am speaking of is nothing more than the "awareness" of life that all esoteric students encourage. Awareness of what, in fact, IS and is happening — happening right now. To measure and appreciate life as it happens and preparation for these events can be important.

Just as the doctor tries to adjust the infant in the womb so that it enters the birth passage in a natural way, so too we can set the sails for our inner birth. Like a sailing ship, we come from within the womb of time to sail beyond time in our particular version of eternity. It can matter to us how our sails are set and how we take the winds of change.

This is why I write on this subject. I had the good fortune to receive instructions on this subject prior to my Saturn return. And although I had great difficulty understanding what was being presented to me at the time, some glimpse into the reality of this passage did filter through to me. Like a baby in the womb, I did prepare myself for what was coming and I did experience a portion of it with awareness or consciousness. And yes, it was more than worthwhile to do so.


© Copyright: Matrix Software





Other articles by Michael Erlewine

Erlewine, MichaelThe Value of the Heliocentric/Geocentric Comparison

Erlewine, MichaelThe Astrology of Local Space

Erlewine, MichaelThe Counselor: Midwife of the Psyche

Erlewine, MichaelTidal Vector Forces: Lunar Phenoma

Erlewine, MichaelBurn Rate: The Retrograde Phenomenon

Erlewine, MichaelThe Uranian Signs

Erlewine, MichaelTibetan Astrology

Erlewine, MichaelOutline of Major Tibetan Techniques

Erlewine, MichaelThe Tibetan Calendar: The 12 Months of the Year

Erlewine, MichaelTibetan Astrology: Appendix A

Erlewine, MichaelAstrological Signs

Erlewine, MichaelThe Planets, Signs, & Houses

Erlewine, MichaelZodiac Cycles and Signs

Erlewine, MichaelAstro*Map Hi-Res 1988

Erlewine, MichaelLocal Space Astrology – Relocation

Erlewine, MichaelLunar Gaps: Taking Advantage of the Lunar Cycle

Erlewine, MichaelThe Lunation Cycle: East and West

Erlewine, MichaelScience and the Lunation Cycle

Erlewine, MichaelInterface: Planetary Nodes - Part I

Erlewine, MichaelInterface: Planetary Nodes - Part II

Erlewine, MichaelGalaxy: Circles, Cycles, Circulation

Erlewine, MichaelGalaxy: Higher Order Structuring

Erlewine, MichaelThe Galactic Nucleus

Erlewine, MichaelHeliocentrics

Erlewine, MichaelOur Roots in the Sun



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