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The 12 Steps of Saturn

The messages of this old article seemed relevant with Saturn and Neptune in Pisces. As Saturn stations this week (Rx on 6-17-2023) where are you being triggered?

Bonnie Isham Willis

Originally written in 2002 and published in NCGR Member letter October-November 2002

Re-write April 2018

Astrologers have long associated Neptune and Pisces with addiction, as an escape or an altered reality. But Saturn should not be overlooked for his part. Both Saturn and Neptune shape addiction, especially alcoholism as a legal, socially acceptable, and often, traditional (family) way to handle uncomfortable emotions and situations. If Saturn is the hard, cold reality of life, and Neptune is the escape, they can be the cause and effect. Saturn’s restrictions and expectations often send us seeking the escape of Neptune. Saturn’s guilt, fear of failure, and feelings of inadequacy can keep us there.


Neptune participates in addiction by letting us get lost in illusion, and escaping the dreaded realities of Earth. Maybe it is the ideal spiritual encounter that our Neptunian soul seeks, as can be found through meditation and spiritual awakenings. It is the same feeling we have when we fall in love, or when we are passionately inspired to create. This feeling is the greatest high we could ever feel, but drugs or alcohol can mimic the experience enough to lure our human mind to crave more.


Saturn’s role in addiction is not so obvious. Saturn is responsibility for our earthly needs, for self, and for our choices. He throws obstacles into our path and tempts us to find an easy way through uncomfortable or difficult emotions and restrictions as we grow. If Saturn is success, it is also fear of failure. If Saturn is social status, it is also feelings of inadequacy. Saturn can build, structure, teach, and show us our fears, self-limitations and guilt.


Saturn can also attract addictions into our life through others. A strong Saturn influence would seldom let itself be overcome by addiction. Instead of living out the escape to Neptune, we subconsciously attract it to us. We project and reflect those parts of ourselves in others. Perhaps under the surface is the envy to escape.

The influence of Saturn might be so responsible to take on the weight of the world, especially for those we love. The underlying motivations may vary, but the interdependency that develops can create an environment in which addiction can thrive and progress. Saturn forces us through challenges and relationship problems to realize we cannot depend on another person to provide our happiness.

Depression and Alcoholism

Astrologers commonly refer to Saturn in depression; its symptoms include feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, inadequacy, guilt, shame, and fear. The common tie between depression and addiction are the same emotions, particularly, powerlessness. In the case of depression, most feel these in excess, and in addiction, avoidance is present. A socially conditioned gender difference often can be seen. For women, it is generally easier to identify and express feelings of depression, and for men, it is generally easier to repress them, or to drink too much in avoidance.


What addicts, enablers, and those suffering depression often have in common is an external locus of control, letting the outside world, others and circumstances, determine their state of happiness or inner peace. Saturn challenges us to find our internal locus of control, finding that inner peace from within. When we are truly in touch with our self, and working with the energy of Saturn, we have recognized the need and begin to take full responsibility for our life, including our choices, our circumstances, and our power to change what we can, and accept that which we cannot change. Those in recovery with a 12-step program are working the program by doing just that.


With the success of many recovering alcoholics and addicts, we see that we need both Saturn and Neptune as part of the recovery process. Through a 12 step program, which includes a spiritual component, an emotional healing can take place. This relates Saturn (working the program) to Neptune (spirituality), and has had much success. Some even say, I don’t know why it works to include the spirituality, but it does. Again combining Saturn (it works) and Neptune (I’m not sure why). When we reach for the natural high of Neptune’s spirituality and begin to take Saturn’s responsibility for our own life, choices, and actions, we are on our way to recovery.

Those of us who have loved and/or enabled an alcoholic or addict need a journey of recovery as well. Saturn can either help this growing process, with boundaries and responsibility for self, or hinder with avoidance and fear. We can see for ourselves in the 12 steps, the repeated messages of both, responsibility and spirituality, and then in the end, giving back, teaching, and supporting others. In recovery, it seems Saturn and Neptune make a great team.


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