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The Saturn Pluto conjunction: guilt, shame and the good girl archetype

Saturn Pluto conjunction Image author unknown.

Let’s talk about the good girl archetype, because the Saturn Pluto conjunction is activating the Cancer Capricorn axis and this archetype is bound to be playing out pretty strongly for a lot of you out there. This is especially the case if you have planets or points between 14 and 25 degrees of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn).

Once upon a time there was a little girl. Everyday she would wake up to a world full of wonder, ready to explore and create and learn. For a long time the little girl needed her parents for everything: food and water, warmth and comfort and answers to her many questions about herself and the world around her. She also looked to her parents to validate her experience and to let her know what was appropriate behaviour and what was not.

The little girls parents were good people. They loved her very much. Whenever they were happy or proud they gave her lots of praise: ‘Good girl’ they would say. But like all human beings they got frustrated, especially when the little girl was loud or messy or chaotic or demanding. So quite often her parents would shout or bribe or even slap her. Sometimes she was punished for things she had done that she did not fully understand.

The little girl learned quickly that when she was a ‘good girl’ her adored parents would give her love and praise and encouragement, whereas if she behaved in a way that upset them she would be shamed and punished. She modified her behaviour accordingly.

The little girl soon grew into a beautiful woman. No longer dependent on her parents she was capable and strong and creative in her own right. However along the way she had internalised the voices of her parents and so, unconsciously, she still tried to be a good girl, to live up to their expectations of her.

This is the origin of shame. Unlike guilt, which is directly related to something we’ve done or failed to do that clearly harms someone else, shame is a deep seated, insidious feeling of unworthiness that is connected to our childhood and upbringing.

For example, we might feel rightly guilty if we forgot to pick up our partner from work when we had agreed to do so. However someone who is deeply invested in the good girl archetype often feels guilty even when they haven’t done anything wrong at all. So for example when their partner asks if they will pick them up and they have to say no because they already have other plans they will feel guilty.

This is shame: when you feel guilty simply for being yourself, putting yourself out there creatively or even just prioritising your own needs ahead of others.

The voice of shame can sound something like this: ‘You’re so selfish / egotistical / loud / annoying / disgusting / ugly. No one will want to hear what you have to say / look at your art. In fact who would even want to know you? Who the hell do you think you are anyway? You’re nothing. You’re not good enough. You’re not worthy. And you certainly don’t deserve to live a life of fearless self expression and creativity.’

The good girl archetype has us believing that the only way we will be worthy of acceptance and love is to work hard at pleasing people. This means putting our own needs aside and always focusing on others. What does the other person think about this? How is the other person feeling? Do they approve of what I’m doing right now? Am I liked and respected by those around me? We constantly strive to be seen as unselfish and nice.

The problem is that we’re not always nice. Astrology shows us this very clearly. Sure there are aspects of us that are nice, but there are also parts of us that are resentful, bitter, jealous, angry, outspoken, argumentative, dogmatic, weak willed and dishonest. Every single one of us has a dark side and the harder we try to hide it from others the more powerfully it plays out in our subconscious.

The Saturn Pluto conjunction shows us our good girl archetype

For many of us, the Saturn Pluto conjunction is stirring up the dark and murky places where we’ve hidden these rejected and forbidden aspects of self. The Cancer Capricorn axis is all about the good girl archetype. On the one hand we have Cancer which represents the mother/daughter bond and all we inherit through this relationship. On the other we have Capricorn, the continual striver, seeking for acheivement and recognition.

When the good girl archetype takes hold of us the striving of Capricorn is no longer directed towards creative pursuits that bring us fulfillment and enrich the world around us. Instead we strive constantly for the recognition and approval of others. We can no longer simply be a mother or a daughter; we must be a ‘good’ mother, a ‘good’ daughter. Ironically these relationships, and many others, become poisoned by our repressed resentment and rage.

The Saturn Pluto conjunction is uniquely suited to stirring up and healing this maladaption of self. Pluto rules our dark side, all those dark emotions that we don’t want to aknowledge including jealousy, resentment, the shame of rejection and betrayal, feelings of powerlessness and impotent rage. While Saturn is the internalised voice of the parent, the voice that tells us when we haven’t lived up to the standards, haven’t obeyed the rules.

On the other hand, when we work with Saturn and Pluto in a constructive way we can make important changes to our underlying habit patterns and behaviours. Saturn and Pluto working together empower us to set our own standards, rewrite the rules and construct boundaries that protect our own health and wellbeing.

Both Saturn and Pluto are currently in retrograde motion, which means that from the Earth they appear to be travelling backwards. Retrograde periods are often times of internal repflection and processing. Although the Saturn Pluto conjunction is exact on 12 January 2020, the two planets have already come within 3 degrees of one another on April 2019. Thus, if your chart is triggered by this configuration, you’re probably already actively working with this energy, either consciously or unconsciously.

Also, the Cancer Capricorn axis, and thus Saturn and Pluto, have been almost continuously activated over the past month by the procession of the personal planets through Cancer, as well as the presence of the Moon’s nodal axis conjunct and opposing Saturn. Those of us with a strong good girl archetype as part of our psyche have been stirred up on many levels!

Working with the Saturn Pluto conjunction

One of the things that this Saturn Pluto conjunction can teach us is how to reclaim our right to set firm boundaries. Many of us have been taught that saying no is not nice, that it’s selfish or unkind. But we forget that by not saying no we are often being deeply unkind to ourselves.

Setting boundaries skillfully requires that we listen deeply to ourselves. Instead of saying yes automatically, we ask ourselves whether that is what we really want to say or whether we’d actually prefer to say no. Then we give ourselves permission to say no, kindly but firmly.

When we first start actively setting boundaries we may get a little push back, but ultimately those who care about us will respect us more for respecting ourselves. And they will vastly prefer our calm and quiet ‘no’ to our sulking, exhausted lashing out or other passive aggressive expression of resentment!

Another thing we can learn from the Saturn Pluto conjunction is how to be brave enough to be our most authentic self. The good girl (or nice guy if you’re male) is a valid part of who you are, but trying to be a good girl all the time is exhausting. It’s time to move on from the guilt and shame of trying to live up to other people’s expectations and step into our creative power.

Freeing ourselves from the good girl archetype doesn’t happen over night. It’s engrained in your neural pathways and like any habit it takes time and practice to change. Put some time aside each day to engage with your inner good girl. Let her know that she no longer has to live in fear of upsetting others. Reassure her that your relationships with those around you will only deepen as you become brave enough to be vulnerable and strong enough to say no.

Revealing our dark side to others has an added benefit. It gives others permission to show us their dark side too. This provides a strong foundation for a truly real and honest relationship where both of you can grow and flourish, despite the challenges you encounter together.

Is the Saturn Pluto conjunction activating your chart?

The Saturn Pluto conjunction will affect you personally if you have planets or points between 14 and 25 degrees of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn). To find out more check out my previous article on this important transit Saturn conjunct Pluto: why you may not be feeling it and why I am!

If you’re struggling with shame and feel trapped in the good girl archetype I strongly recommend the book Women who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. It’s all about reclaiming your own wild and creative nature. Have you already read it? What is your own experience with the good girl archetype? Please share your experiences below.

7 Comments on The Saturn Pluto conjunction: guilt, shame and the good girl archetype

  1. well said, Faith!! Libra rising for me has also proven a pre-disposed recipe for people-pleasing. I have had to work very intentionally on becoming aware of how & when I filter my thoughts through what I anticipate someone else would find pleasing instead of staying with my own likes/dislikes/desires. As with everything, AWARENESS begins the healing. Thanks for the thought provoking article.

    • Thanks Sue, all this is becoming so much more important to me since having two little girls of my own. How to get them to cooperate without shaming? How to work with my own feelings of shame when I fail to do so. Learning to be gentle with myself as well as them. And yes, awareness is the key. Love to you xx

  2. Faith, thank you much for your encouraging input on this current, major transit! As you know, having one of my natal personal and transpersonal planets, with my rising sign, falling between the specified degrees in Cap, Libra, and Cancer, your observations directly apply to what I’ve been experiencing during this transit. It’s been quite lonely dealing with it all on my own. I greatly appreciate the kind support you’ve offered with this article on my journey of healing/self-liberation from habits of shame/guilt/good girl syndrome. Love..xoxo

    • You are most welcome Anahit. As you probably realise I mostly write about what I myself am experiencing. I’m very glad when other people resonate with that and can gain some insight from my experience, or when there is an opportunity to work together in developing a clearer vision xx

  3. Susan Buckland // July 28, 2019 at 7:22 am //

    Thanks so much for this. I have had good girl issues all my life and only recently have realised and begun to work on. Libra in Venus. Women who run with the wolves is a book I have read about 10 times and cannot count the amount I have given away.

    • Thanks for your input Susan. I think so much of personal growth is simply recognising the patterns we are caught up in. From conscious awareness can then come change and growth. xx

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