by guest astrologer Kathy Rose
Kathy Rose is a Highest Honors Graduate of Noel Tyl’s Master’s Degree Certification Program. She has enjoyed a thriving astrological practice for over 20 years, with clients around the world. Her articles have been published by The Mountain Astrologer magazine, and she produces a monthly New Moon Video available at www.roseastrology.com. Kathy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“No one makes you feel inferior (or guilty) without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
In my practice, I’ve noticed that Saturn in hard aspect to the Sun or Moon in the natal chart can dramatically signal sensitivity to feeling guilt; to taking on responsibility for things which are out of one’s control.
We understand that when the luminaries are stressed by Saturn contact in the natal chart, there is developmental tension with ego expansion and with the expression of the individual’s reigning needs. Sometimes there are inhibitions to work through - a tight, overly controlled or repressed sense of self is often presented. Because we can anticipate this tension when we see this in a horoscope, we should search for ways to release and redirect the restrictions in development.
When I see these aspects in a natal chart, I will often say to the client, “How do you see the role guilt played in your early life.” Then I pause… and wait.
Usually the flood gates open, and we have a powerful discussion.
Recently I talked with a female client, “Tammy”, who has Sun at 0 Gemini at the MC opposed by Saturn Rx at 29 Scorpio on the IC. When I asked her about the role of guilt in her life, she exclaimed, “I feel guilty about everything!!!!” She continued by admitting that, if anything goes wrong, she always feels it’s her fault; and that she feels responsible for everything, for everyone’s well-being and success.
As we continued to talk, Tammy described a childhood full of physical and verbal abuse. Her father had a rigid and controlling personality - with a highly critical mentality. When she was young, she noticed that if there weren’t total order and perfection in the household, her father would become explosive.
The opposition between Saturn and the Sun connected her to the energy of ambition and structured organization - she was wired in this way. Tammy quickly learned that if she handled all the problems of the household, she would avoid abuse, and so would her siblings. Her problem-solving capability around the house became the norm. By automatically assuming responsibility for stepping up and handling things, she had raised the bar for expected behavior. When she didn’t live up to those standards, there was powerful and abusive disapproval.
A conditioned response was born - she linked high efficiency, order and a belief that she was responsible for getting everything done, with the absence of disapproval. She also associated making a mistake (or anything less than hyper-efficiency) with abusive punishment. The pattern she developed has been to attempt to ensure that there is order and success in her life AND for everyone with whom she is in relationship.
In my conversation with Tammy, we focused on the panic and horrible guilt she feels when she finds herself in a situation where she has no control or isn’t able to fix a problem. She feels it is her absolute responsibility to resolve any such problem. Still, to this day, she is afraid when her world isn’t in perfect order - she fears that a “smack on the head” is right around the corner, cruelly waiting for her.
Another female client, “Kate”, has Saturn conjunct Moon in Capricorn square Sun in Libra. She has a pattern very much like Tammy’s, but without the abuse.
Kate also related to feeling guilty all the time, especially if she takes time for her personal needs. In the consultation, she admitted being influenced by her Catholic education and by the message, “self pride is no pride”. She was programmed with an unyielding belief that you should never call attention to yourself because that would be selfish and shallow.
This was further modeled by her Grandmother who lived with the family. The Grandmother lived a life of silent martyrdom - constant work, never resting or taking time for herself. This was in contrast to her mother, a total free spirit who lived in a perpetual state of being overwhelmed and disorganized. Her father was a very regimented military man who was a master at radiating silent disapproval and judgment when there wasn’t order in the household.
In Kate’s chart, Saturn rules the third house, holding a Capricorn stellium with Saturn-Jupiter-Moon. Her mindset is Capricornian, flowing toward strategic achievement and efficiency; and this is in sync with the reigning need of her Moon - to make things happen and administrate progress. There is a natural orientation to organize and to get things done, and by devotedly following this orientation, she feels rewarded.
Kate learned that she was incredibly capable(!) of taking care of all the disorganization and undone tasks that her mother couldn’t handle, and thus winning the approval from her father - or at least, avoiding the disapproval. She adopted a conditioned pattern of feeling painful self-judgment and guilt, even when there wasn’t the suggestion of disorder. She assumed responsibility for everything.
When we had our consultation, Kate was 49 years old and the mother of 5 children. She was exhausted, stressed and emotionally drained from living in a state of chronic guilt-anxiety - fearing that she would not be able to stay on top of the never-ending work in her house.
Kate and Tammy are examples of Saturn’s structured, efficient drive to get things done, to move things forward, and to solve problems by working hard. These traits became exaggerated and ignited by external disapproval. An extreme is set up, and the boundary issue of where responsibility begins and ends emerges. Responsibility runs amuck. –These are examples of painful overachieving in order to avoid guilt and self-judgment.
The opposite reaction - underachievement - is also possible.
She has developed a language of instinctive apology, with “I’m sorry” being interjected many times in every conversation. Her Saturn energy has never risen to the challenge of achievement; instead she proves to herself on a daily basis that she is as “bad” and “unworthy” as she felt her parents projected upon her.
Instead of working to avoid the guilt, she embraces it with her underachievement - and her sense of self-sabotage and failure keeps her safe. Her guilt eats away at her self-worth and keeps her stuck in a very dysfunctional pattern, with her feeling as though she doesn’t have the right to take up space.
Whether it’s hyper-achievement with a pervasive over-reaching assumption of responsibility, or purposeful underachievement in order to guarantee disappointment for the sake of staying safe, this guilt syndrome presents a losing battle. It’s an inner conflict where one loses no matter what one does. Guilt is an emotional state produced by thoughts that we have not lived up to our ideal self and could - or “should” - have done better.
This is where therapeutic astrology really shines. If we are confident enough to understand both the structure and the symbolism of guilt as seen through tension from Saturn to the Sun or Moon, we can help our client identify a programmed reaction that controls their behavior and keeps them stuck in negative patterns. We can help them break the circular cycle of guilt and be free from the self-imposed burdens.
When people have a deeper awareness of their guilt patterns, they can tear up the permission slip they unconsciously wrote - giving the world their consent for making them feel bad.