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METAPHYSICAL SATURN

by Gary Brand - written March 10, 2008,
published in the April 2008 edition of Echo* newspaper

False color photo of Saturn, its rings, and four of its
icy moons, taken by Voyager 2 This false color photo of Saturn, its rings, and four of its icy moons was taken by Voyager 2.  Three of the moons - Tethys, Dione, and Rhea - are visible in a row below Saturn, against the darkness of space, and the fourth moon, Mimas, is visible in front of Saturn just below the rings.  Saturn appears flattened because it is - its diameter from top to bottom is considerably less than its equatorial diameter.  Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

The rings cast a dramatic shadow on Saturn's cloudtops but
appear paper-thin when viewed edge-on like in this image The rings cast a dramatic shadow on Saturn's cloudtops but appear paper-thin when viewed edge-on like this.  The moon on the left is Dione (1,118 kilometers or 695 miles across) and Enceladus is on the right (505 kilometers or 314 miles across).  This image of the ringed planet and its moons in the ring plane was taken by the Cassini spacecraft on February 28, 2005.  Courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

This is a 1491 woodcut of the personification of Saturn
riding a chariot drawn by two dragons and holding his scepter - a sickle. This is a 1491 woodcut of the personification of Saturn (Saturnus in Latin) riding a chariot drawn by two dragons and holding a sickle, his scepter of power and symbol of his ability to sever and to harvest.  Aquarius, the principle sign ruled by Saturn, is represented in the back wheel of the chariot by a water bearer pouring out water.  Capricorn, the secondary sign ruled by Saturn, is represented by the goat-fish in the front wheel of the chariot.  The incorrect order of these two signs in the wheels is testimony to the loss of understanding of planetary sect during the Medieval and Renaissance periods.  From the 1491 edition of Bonatti (G.B. (c. 1282/1491)).
his article is one of a series about the metaphysical and esoteric meanings of the planets that focuses on the metaphysics of Saturn (called Cronus by the Greeks).  In classical Greek mythology, Saturn was ruler of Heaven and Earth and the Titan pantheon, after he freed his five brother and six sisters (reflecting the six feminine and six masculine signs of the zodiac), from the repression of their father, Uranus.  Saturn was the lastborn son of Uranus and throughout most of history and in most cultures, the firstborn son has ascended to the throne or inherited the kingdom, the family business, the family estate, inheritance, etc.  Because the lastborn son was left little or nothing by his father, he had nothing to lose by rebelling against his father and, in fact, had everything to gain by overthrowing his father.

According to Greek myth (F.G., p. 88 (1968)), Father Sky (Uranus), symbolizing the starry night sky, stuffed each of his children back into Mother Earth (Gaea) as soon as they were born because he was horrified by them and probably also because he wanted Gaea’s undivided attention.  Metaphysically, this myth warns us against suppressing or squelching our creations (including our children).  Gaea, who was Uranus’ mother as well as his mate (one of the many examples of incest in Greek mythology), appealed to her repressed children to conspire with her against their Father Sky.  They all cowered at the thought except for her lastborn son, Saturn.  Mother Earth fashioned a metal scythe (Saturn’s subsequent scepter and symbol of his power to sever or cut away) and Saturn lay in wait for his father to reunite with Gaea at the end of the day (this is where the terms “nightfall” and “as night descends” originated).  As Uranus descended upon Mother Earth, Saturn castrated (emasculated) his father.  Despite Saturn being the youngest son, he assumed dominion over the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth.  According to the Greeks, the Titans under Saturn’s reign invented the arts and magic.

As the myth of Hesoid goes, the first humans were contemporaries of Saturn and they enjoyed complete happiness.  This period was termed by the Greeks the “Golden Age,” when gods and mortals dined together and coexisted in a state of mutual understanding.  Hesoid says that humans "... lived like gods, free from worry and fatigue; old age did not afflict them; they rejoiced in continual festivity" (Id., p. 93).  This situation changed, however, when Jupiter supplanted his father Saturn as ruler of Heaven and Earth, for he asserted his supremacy over mankind and visited many misfortunes upon them.  This is ironic, since the depiction of these two symbols by astrologers is Saturn as the bringer of afflictions and Jupiter as the bringer of good fortune and plenty!  Since the opposition is ruled by Saturn, irony is a Saturn keyword.

Saturn devoured each of his children as they were born - out of fear (a Saturn keyword) that, as an oracle had predicted, he would be dethroned by one of his sons.  Like father like son, this myth warns us about “following in our father’s footsteps” and that “the sins of the father are visited upon the son.”  Rhea, Saturn’s wife and sister, was overwhelmed with grief and conspired to hide Jupiter (Saturn’s lastborn son) from his father so she substituted a stone for the newborn, which Saturn immediately swallowed without examination.  After attaining maturity, Jupiter challenged, defeated and eventually banished his father and the rest of the Titans (except Oceanus).

Our words “saturnine” (meaning gloomy, sluggish), “Saturday” (ruled by Saturn and it is the seventh day of the week, the day of rest – a Saturn concept), and “saturnian” (which not only means of or pertaining to the planet and the god but also means prosperous, happy or peaceful – irony again) are derived from Saturn.  He rules Saturday by virtue of his governorship of the 1st hour of that day.  As governor of the seventh planetary sphere and the seventh ring, Saturn rules the seventh chakra, the “crown” of the human body, symbolizing our potential to connect to the Universal timeless, dimensionless state of omniscience.  This is accomplished by becoming unaffected by the material challenges (Saturn) of life in a body.

The glyph or pictograph of Saturn is a stylized crescent or semicircle surmounted with a cross, which symbolizes the dominance of the cross of matter and time over receptivity – the preeminence of the material concerns of life that must be overcome (Saturn) and mastered (Saturn) before we can spiritually ascend to a level where we no longer need to reincarnate (Saturn represents our need to settle our karma through living multiple lifetimes).  Saturn rules the signs of Capricorn and Aquarius but he rejoices in Aquarius (which is his principle domicile) because, according to Ptolemy, Saturn is a diurnal, masculine planet so it has a greater affinity with the diurnal, masculine sign of Aquarius than with the nocturnal, feminine sign of Capricorn (C.P., p. 15 (c. 150 A.D./1976)).

Saturn’s smallest or shortest planetary period is 30 years (approximating its orbital period of 29.4 years) and the timeframe of old age and infirmity, from age 69 to death (or age 98) in the human lifespan, is assigned to Saturn.  Ptolemy said, “Saturn, moving in the last sphere, regulates the final old age, as agreeing with its chilliness [its remoteness from the Sun].  He obstructs the mental movements, the appetites and enjoyments, rendering them imbecile and dull, in conformity to the dullness [slowness] of his own motion" (Id., p. 139).

Other recurrence cycles (number of years after which the same astronomical event occurs within a few calendar days or the planet returns to the same degree of the zodiac) are 59 years (2 orbits), 206 years (an unusually exact cycle) and 265 years, the latter being his “greatest” period.  Ironically, Saturn has the shortest “greatest” planetary period of all of the planets of antiquity.

Saturn takes his joy in the twelfth house because, as Medieval astrologer Bonatti put it, the twelfth house "... is the house of sorrow, sadness, labor, lamentation, and weeping; and Saturn rejoices in these things" (G.B.II, p. 100 (c. 1282/1994)).
_____________________________________

Reference Citations.

See related articles Metaphysical Aquarius and Metaphysical Capricorn.

*Echo is a monthly newspaper about community, the environment, health, cuisine, and spirituality that is distributed in central Virginia.
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida
850-656-5758


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