Saturn in Aries: into the wild…

Chris McCandless in Alaska
Chris McCandless in Alaska

I recently watched Sean Penn’s magnificent biographical drama of the life of Chris McCandless, described as an American wanderer who quite literally went “into the wild” to try and answer some inner impetus. I found the film to be profoundly moving (I don’t care, I cried – a lot!) and I cannot recommend it highly enough; so if you haven’t watched it yet, go rent it or buy it, then watch it, then get back and read the rest of this post.

So, if you’re half way familiar with this young man’s story then you will no doubt wonder what motivated him to feel such an overwhelming need to go “into the wild” at all, after all, he had a good life, good prospects, a future of genuine promise. His demise provokes real polarity in onlookers with the majority thinking that he was tragically driven by a surfeit of feeling and others preferring to consider him at best “an idiot” who got exactly what he deserved. (And who says there’s no compassion left in the world!).

I cannot find his birth time, but actually it does not really matter, because there is one overwhelming factor in his astrology that simply cannot be understated; let us consider his chart:

Astrologers beware! I know that tee-square to Neptune looks enticing, and how can we gloss over the grand water trine, which actually forms a kite to Uranus for Pete’s sake! and then too there’s the opposing near partile conjunction of Mars with Chiron to consider; but all of these are mere appetisers when compared to the main event, peregrine Saturn in Aries.

Not for nothing is Saturn in Aries called the lone ranger position (by me mostly), and “the loneliness of the long-distance runner” has some ring of authenticity to it, but if ever there was an “into the wild” placement then people, this is it. The sign of Aries is all about adventure, solitude, strength and character, and wherever Saturn is found it makes a test. Peregrination, as you should understand if you want to help your clients whose charts evince it, creates an extreme polarity, it is like having only two volume settings on your stereo: totally silent or really forkin’ loud! Or only having two speeds in your car, standstill or a thousand miles an hour! Now it stands to reason that if your car behaved like that you either would never go anywhere in your life or you’d create complete havoc when you did decide to take a trip to the shops. That is peregrination, trust me, it works every time.

So, for Chris McCandless he never really had any choice. Here then is not actually “an idiot who deserved everything that happened to him” but someone with an almost soul-destroying burden of astrology; Saturn peregrine is really tough, hey guys, Saturn is pretty tough even when it gets trines, so imagine not having anything to moderate that entire influence and having to express that exacting energy with every fibre of your being! In Chris’ case he was switched into a particular mode of Saturnine/Arian expression, that of survival and going it alone, and this was motivated by a need to transform himself into a non-materialist free-spirit (tee-square to Neptune in Scorpio) and the grand water trine creates an emotional self-sufficiency and introversion that allowed him to feel secure within himself and which requires no external validation (a great insight into the grand trine experience by the way). If you watch the film and consider the manner of the ending too then it really speaks, does it not, to those themes of Mars/Chiron opposing Uranus/Pluto across the Virgo Pisces axis. Here are themes of recklessness in regard to nutrition and sustenance, with giving up on the world and trying to trust in something less tangible, with a need to very abruptly transform the self whilst simultaneously rejecting the pain of confused emotions.

These factors though only describe the mode of expression of the peregrination. Far more common, where Saturn is Aries is concerned, is the “fountain of youth” effect. Consider two further examples of peregrine Saturn in Aries, Twiggy and Kylie, both who have made a considerable career from their vivacious and youthful good-looks. Even to this day Twiggy is considered a role-model for ageing women wishing to retain some measure of youthful vitality. Here then is another expression of Aries (youth) configured with Saturn (old age). With Saturn in Aries this impetus is prevalent: no matter how you achieve it: it is either “forever young” or “into the wild”. This is exactly why Saturn in Aries speaks to the loneliness of the long-distance runner, because it neatly encapsulates both principles to near perfection; you can actually don your running shoes and go into the wild, all the time fighting the signs of premature ageing by keeping your body in top condition. It is so good a rule that one of the first questions I ask anyone with Saturn Aries is: “did you start running yet?” They always do.

And before you wonder, I do have Saturn in Aries and I’m all signed up for the Hastings half marathon next spring, so I have to get out there and do my 5 miles, right now.

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14 thoughts on “Saturn in Aries: into the wild…

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  1. Thanks for the link, I skimmed it (it was very long) and the gist I got from it was kind of what I was trying to say when I wrote:

    “His demise provokes real polarity in onlookers with the majority thinking that he was tragically driven by a surfeit of feeling and others preferring to consider him at best “an idiot” who got exactly what he deserved.”

    I would say then that the facts are not actually particularly pertinent to the astrology except insofar as it’s fair to say that he went into the wild and died for whatever reason.

    Actually, this if anything simply underlines the value of the astrology, since I get his motivation via a peregrine Saturn in Aries better than I ever would have from watching the film.

    In that sense, my post was (hopefully) a useful postscript to the film. And it’s still a great film, whatever the facts and myths and projections that people have placed upon it all. Thought provoking stuff, thank you 🙂

  2. Dear Chirotic,

    Thank you for writing this article. I enjoyed and agree with most of your interpretation, with two exceptions:

    Without a birth time, we can’t know for sure whether his Saturn has aspects or not (possible trine to moon). Your description of Unaspected planets is excellent. It may well be that his Saturn has no major aspects – that would make perfect sense. But without that time of birth, again, how can we know?

    About the term, “Peregrine”…I may never understand what prompted a well-known and otherwise very good astrologer to redefine the term “Peregrine” (to mean unaspected planets). The older, equally useful but different definition of that term, is “no essential dignity”. Measuring the strength of planets through essential dignity is an incredibly powerful tool. It was made popular by Ptolemy but is still in use today.

    A planet with no major aspects and a planet with no essential dignity are two entirely different entities, and the use of the same term for two distinct astrological properties has gone a long way in confusing new students and lessening Astrology’s credibility to the masses. It would be great if astrologers could get this straightened out.

    I’m just sayin’.


    1. Thanks Maria, a couple of rejoinders though.
      The life story of Chris McCandless makes it very clear to me that he didn’t have a trine to the Moon, had he done so I cannot imagine for one minute that he would’ve gone into the wild in the first place. What would have motivated him to do so? And since the effect of Saturn in Aries is understood, it is academic in any case. It is possible that there is a trine between Moon and Saturn, but he still evinces the overwhelming effect of Saturn in Aries and that is the big point.
      The term peregrine is not in any way redefined, simply given more texture. Ptolemy meant Peregrination to impose a very focused lack of essential dignity (peregrine meaning wanderer, from pelegrinus). This is the exact same effect as an unaspected planet. Peregrination implies a point that is not at home, not comfortable, that must always struggle to be expressed, thus it eventually becomes over-expressed, especially in the case of Saturn in its fall.

      Fundamentally, I am not especially concerned about terminology because I find it consistent and I would rather look to the principles that underpin the rules you mention. They are only rules because they are useful in expressing the principle that underpins them. It is exactly because measuring through essential dignity is such a useful tool that this approach needs to be incorporated into the wider body of understanding; it is an incredibly powerful diagnostic device, terminology notwithstanding (although, I must confess that I don’t find it remotely confusing.)

  3. Thanks Maria for the recent comment, otherwise I might have missed this post. As a fellow “Saturn in Aries” person, I confess that I’m not a runner, but then my Saturn has 5 aspects to major planets, only one of which is an outer planet. .Pluto.

    At 70 years of age, the value of eternal youth has lost a lot of its grip but, even now, I can indeed relate to the “into the wild” urge!

    One is never to old to gain insight into oneself; many thanks for writing this.

  4. Thanks for the post. Saturn in Aries here, and also born in 68. I had a profound experience watching the film and felt a deep familiarity with themes, and with processing them in my own way.

    I started running in my early 20s. And though I’ve tried many physical activities, I always come back to running. 🙂

  5. McCandless died because the game was played out in the area and he had nothing to eat, so he gathered herbs (poison sweet pea among them) eat them and died. I know of someone in southern oregon who made their cats hunt outside and did not feed them. The cats were expected to hunt for their own food. That is O.K. except the THE GAME IS PLAYED OUT THERE TOO. Too many people already hunted, killed and ate it all!!!

  6. I don’t know a lot about all this aerie fairy stuff, planets aliening & so on.. but to me, the reason this guys life story gets so many folks thinking is that , no matter how much money we stuff into our pockets or advance ourselves with technology,

    We cannot escape our primal past and our need to be as one with nature instead of trying to control it..

    We are here but once.. and most of us spend the best years of our lives slaving to pay for THINGS that we think we must have to for fill us, we build these fortress’s and fill them full of fancy crap, Then have to build gated communities to protect us from our selves !! We are consumers and we swallow every bit that they throw our way and then beg for more.

    Just imagine for a moment what this planet would be like today with our influences removed..

    Fuckin superior, yeah rite, that’s why governments around the globe are scramberling to save the ozone from all the shit we have pumped into the atmosphere,

    We have literally wiped out hundreds of animals and plants, polluted rivers, oceans and destroy landscapes in pursuit of personal gain.

    But, will we stop, no fucking way, we will keep raping this planet till there is nothing left, and our answer is that one day will have the ability to migrate to another planet and do it all again..

    Fuck you all.. Selfish pricks!!!

  7. I heard Jungian therapist James Hollis give a talk today and the topic of “Into the Wild” movie came up. Hollis was talking about the need for the child to become independent of the parent–what we used to do is no longer done–which was going into the wild. Sean Penn also talked about this need in modern living as absent during interviews on the movie when it came out in 2007. I think Penn has it right. What Hollis said was that McCandless died because he had no elders to guide him in his quest for individuation from the parent. He didn’t trust (Saturn) them. Instead his parents wanted him to conform to be successful in their way of thinking.

    With Chiron in Pisces, McCandless had an identity problem that many with this config do. They have a wound about their identity. So it is reasonable that he went on a search to find this. We all have this longing for separation to find our own individuality, but for McCandless, it was major.

    And with Saturn square Venus, he did not have an empowering father, but one who made demands on him to conform (this was left out of the movie in order to get the rights to make it). Conformance was not constructive for this type of person. Instead, had his father helped him on his quest to find his own identity, McCandless might not have gone to such extremes to find himself.

    What Hollis said today was that our modern western culture has this extended adolescence period ranging from age 10 to age 28. In fact, we have really an adolescent culture in general, even after adulthood. This is typified by black/white thinking, impulsiveness and a blaming mentality–all aspects of youth.

    What we find often is that children are expected to become the story of the parents blocked story–to fulfill what they really wanted to be. And our celebrity worship is similar to this–our lives are unfulfilled because we’re too afraid to make them authentic, so we look to celebrities who seem to somehow have “made it.” In reality, what is needed is to move away from celebrity culture.

    On the plus side, McCandless story made headlines and a book/movie was made about it because American people really needed the message–his life was not totally in vain. Another movie like this was Castaway, where the main character fares better because of his separation experience than he would have if he had stayed working for FEDEX and had an uneventful life.

  8. Someone online has determined the birth time to be 445 am. However, he doesn’t really have facial features of a Capricorn which is the rising sign at that time. His rounded features seem more Cancerian to me. Even when all thinned out during his last days he still had rounded facial features. Being a Cancer rising makes sense due to his almost crippling sensitivity and crablike nature…Cancer rising can hide their identity really really well not allowing us to understand their true motives. Furthermore, it would place Venus in his 7th which is synonymous with his scant love life and public life for that matter. Most likely he would have been born in the afternoon that day.

    If, say, for instance, he was born at 230 pm, the sun would be in aquarius in the eighth which puts him under the spotlight for a huge transformation in a life and death situation. He also would have Jupiter, Pluto and Uranus in the third giving him a profound intellect and interest in deriving deep meaning from literature.

  9. Time changes all things and I would like to update what I said in 2012 above. I have come across more information about this story since then. Chris’ sister, Carine McCandless, published her book in Nov 2014 “The Wild Truth” revealing that it was anger at his father that drive Chris to such extremes. His desire was to escape his parents, having had a toxic childhood. Domestic abuse was the cause. Chris and his sister experienced many events where they witnessed their mother being beaten at home. Chris was even made to feel guilt that he had somehow caused it, because his mother was trapped in the marriage.

    I have found it clear that when people seem to do strange things, they do it because of some reason. Its just that until now, we did not know the cause. I do think the soul seeks to go to higher levels with each embodiment. So even though Chris life seems tragic, he did demonstrate some admirable qualities he can use in the future. At a minimum, he is an inspiration to many people.

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