so to continue this reverie about transits and how they differ from natal placements,I've turned to the slower moving planets, and want to focus on the "social" planets, jupiter and saturn. jupiter and saturn have medium length cycles, but certainly short enough for visits to each of the 12 signs more than once in a normal lifespan. jupiter will spend about a year in each sign, and you can expect a "jupiter return" every 12 years (again, a return is when a transiting planet returns to a native's birth placement). saturn, with a 29 1/2 year cycle, spends about two and a half years in a sign.
the jupiter and saturn cycles are about the growth and consolidation of one's participation in society at large. through jupiter, we experience the expansion of our knowledge of the world, our understanding of our own belief systems and cultural ways, and hopefully, those of others. (Americans are less likely to experience other cultures than Europeans or Asians). natally, where jupiter is placed shows where you can most easily absorb new ideas and experience, where your personality can be most expansive, and even where good fortune can happen. transits are opportunities to expand in a particular area of your life, to find new meanings and new understandings, e.g. about yourself (1st house), family (4th) or new associations (11th).
as we cannot know everything, or believe just anything, it is through saturn that we consolidate those experiences into social norms and forms--into a way of life in our particular society. saturn is about limitations and boundaries; natal placements of saturn can indicate an area where you feel naturally constrained or even frustrated; however, there can be great strength and fortitude as well. natal placements indicate the potential for great authority and leadership. folks often dread saturn transits as times of loss, loneliness and depression, but the primary purpose of a saturn transit is to align oneself with natural law. for example, saturn transiting your 6th house may indicate a need to address health or the proper level of dedication in your life. if you make any needed adjustments, you can gain greater strength and a firmer foundation for your life. if you fail to make the necessary adjustments, saturn can prove a harsh teacher, which is where he gets his dour reputation.
many people have heard of the first saturn return, around the age of 30, a time when one is considered to be a full adult and picks up the mantle of responsibility and authority. this is a good segue to the next part of this musing: the outer planet transits as milestones. come back for part III.