Saturn introduces the human being to the concept of linear time, to the needs fixed in the limits of the earthly condition.
Saturn is, within the classical septenary, the outermost planet of the solar system (excluding, for the moment, the role of the so-called trans-Saturnian planets). Thus, it separates the solar system from the rest of the cosmos, limiting it with its orbit; in this, it agrees with astrology’s anatomical attributions, which see Saturn ruling the skin.
Rudhyar places Saturn in a relationship that sees the planet as the completion of solar consciousness in the context of social belonging. The permanent surrender of individual factors to community existence is the finality of the solar expression that reveals itself in the manifestation of a shared life where the individual can express their nature, thus becoming aware of himself, of the “I am”. From the social point of view, the decisive characteristics to which we attribute its symbolism are the aspects of permanence and stability, which originate a whole series of constructs such as law, order, etc. It is a group experience that allows the construction of factors of common coexistence respectful of everyone’s individuality. As the skeleton supports the organs, so Saturn guarantees a social scheme to compare the individual to others according to the role that belongs to it.
Saturn reveals its negative aspects when the stability it guarantees becomes an absolute, essential requirement; the Saturnian structures in charge of social and community cooperation act as a tyranny, the linear thought as an unavoidable dogma. All this is because the sacrificial value inherent in Saturn is lost. There is no more way to offer one’s individuality to recognise and harmonise in the broader social group. Since Saturn draws the boundary of the individual structure centred on the Sun, the subsequent expansion of a self genuinely integrated into the universal vision will be carried out under the protection of the trans-Saturnian planets.
We can note that Rudhyar, in addition to the Sun-Saturn polarisation to represent the social expansion of consciousness, also considers the Moon-Saturn dyad, the psychic energy that flows into the field of consciousness modifying its outlines. That is, the Moon ‘pours’ energy into the Saturnian structure, making it alive, in a combination of form-energy that is a prelude to the characterisation of the self in the human frame. Rudhyar uses a peculiar expression to define the lunar role: The Moon is that portion of the Sun enclosed by Saturn. By this, he seems to affirm that the entry of Saturn into the personal equation allows the formation of a conscience reflected in the objective experience; it is the creation of a structure that enables the pure presence of the self to manifest itself in the broader social group.
To Liz Greene, Saturn symbolises a psychic process using the experiences of pain, restrictions, and discipline to reach a greater degree of awareness and get closer to the archetype of the Self. The critical and limiting incidents with which Saturn cloaks itself result from our weaknesses; they often appear as ‘external’ events beyond our control, for which the planet has earned the title of ‘Lord of Karma’. But the revealing concept in this context is that the human being creates their destiny by unconsciously bringing to reality those who are their inner models, which appear then as Saturnian trials. Hence the limiting experiences become the testing ground through which the individual recognises his true self. From this point of view, they are like a test indicating the main path towards the resolution of dualities; it is a decision necessary to complete oneself in a broader awareness in which light and dark represent the extremes through which to transform the lead of Saturn in the alchemical gold of integrated consciousness.
Roberto Sicuteri (an Italian astrologer and psychologist) sees in Saturn the link between matter and Spirit, meaning by this that the planet ‘ends’ individual experience whose expression, from then on, goes beyond its physical contours (in social or spiritual life). We recognise this dichotomy in the planet’s glyph, representing the cross of matter above the hyperbolic curve of the spirit. Nevertheless, as a psychologist with a Jungian orientation, Sicuteri gives the symbol a reading in a purely psychoanalytic key; although of interest, it risks placing itself upstream of esoteric symbolism, frustrating the efforts of those who see astrology as a tool for overcoming the purely individual condition.
In his aspect of Lord of Time, Cronus (Saturn) devours his children prevailing the Senex aspect over the Puer. He is the castrating ogre who wants to cancel the idea of a posterity undermining the foundations of his absoluteness with his sonship. With his father’s emasculation, he tries to put an end to the dependence on a principle that is, in turn, uncontrollable. At the level of depth psychology, it represents the rupture of cosmic order for freedom paid for at a high price because the entry from there forward in the measurable time imposes filial sacrifice. It is the attempt to stop time by encapsulating it in an overwhelming ego concept. In a certain sense, Saturn becomes the unfinished version of Uranus; he is the Titan eager to re-establish the mythical timeless stay in a world in which a historical and linear vision has now established itself.
In the Hesiodic mythology of Theogony, Cronus – Saturn for the Romans – is the strongest of the Titans generated by the union of Gaea, the mother earth, with Uranus, the starry sky. Uranus is a ruthless father who hides his newborn children in the depths of the world; Gaea, burdened by the weight of the situation, creates the essence of iron in her bowels and ejects a sickle from it, instigating Cronus to emasculate his father. After that, Cronus marries his sister Rea and, mindful of his father’s prophecy, devours the children he had with Rea for fear of being ousted. One of these, Zeus-Jupiter, escapes from the sad fate by a stratagem and dethrones him by confining him to Tartarus.
So what was the result of the paternal emasculation according to Hesiod’s myth? In astronomical terms, the separation of heaven from earth, the establishment of the ecliptic obliquity, which from then on marks the beginning of measurable time, and the rupture of the original unity. Saturn, as the first planet appearing in the sky of fixed stars, figures as the regent of the motion of the Universe. To the stellar fixity, the witness of the essence of Being beyond every change, counterparts the procession of the planetary gods: they are the immanent expression of the silent will of heaven. Under the domination of Uranus, the first generation of the world founds an era of substantial balance. Harmony reigns supreme, but “the father, the great Uranus, called the sons he generated Titans. He wanted to distinguish them with a blameworthy name because they had stained themselves with iniquity by committing a terrible crime, for which one day they would have paid the penalty. The Titan is the “dilator”, according to the Greek etymology of the word. He mythically represents the astronomical upheaval that marks the detachment of man from the cosmos. At a certain point, the heliacal rising of a constellation no longer coincides with the reference zodiac sign due to the phase shift induced by the precession of the equinoxes; it is the loss of perfection narrated in the wisdom traditions of all times, the end of the Golden Age. From then on, time begins to shatter the eras of humanity, causing empires and civilisations to rise and drag them mercilessly into oblivion.
The Latin author Macrobius insists on the equivalence of Kronos (Saturn) and Chronos (Time) because Saturn, with his act, started time; it is always for this reason that Cronus devours his children: time leads to the end what it gives birth to. In his Saturnalia, he tells us in great detail of the separation from the skies: “Having Saturn cut off the genitals of his father Heaven, and having thrown them into the sea, Venus was born which, from the name of the foam (in Greek afrós) from which she was formed, it took the name of Aphrodite. As the different principles descend from heaven and how the various elements making up the world descend from these principles, the time came when the generative principles of the elements ceased to descend from heaven, as the creation of those elements was now complete. Since then, to perpetuate the multiplication of animals relentlessly, the faculty of generating through fluids (ex humore) was transposed to the Venusian action. So that, from that moment, all living beings were created by the union of the male with the female. Due to the amputation of the genitals, physicists (that means physical philosophers, those seeking the Physis or nature of external things, the laws and the substance of the material and measurable world) gave the god the name Saturn, from Sathimus, derived from satheh, which has the meaning of virile member “. Once the celestial generation ceases, procreation as a man and a woman takes over under the auspices of Aphrodite, which begins the cycle of humanity. Macrobius, again in his work, describes Saturn as auctor temporum (seasons’ architect), a master farmer who designates the times and places of sowing, cultivating and harvesting; agriculture exercises a sacred function within traditional civilisations because it emphasises the correlation between celestial and terrestrial cycles.
- Saturn is the initiator of today’s humanity, that from a pre-existing Edenic state ruled by Uranus (Heaven), “falls” into the material dimension governed by time and generation through the differentiation of the sexes.
- Saturn is a master farmer who, through sowing and harvests, links the terrestrial seasons to the immutability of the celestial cycles.
- The skin, which delimits the corporeality from the external world as well as Saturn, in the classical septenary, is the extreme boundary of the solar system.
- The skeleton, the teeth, the horny appendages, and the organism’s mineral apparatus. The mineral state represents the extreme density of matter, which is the complete physical manifestation of the spiritual state.
- On the mental level, concentration, solitude, analysis, rationality, essentiality, depth and meditative attitudes. In terms of thought, these are all qualities that refer to the symbolism of Saturn; in the intellectual field, it is the guideline of knowledge tending to elevation.
- On the moral level, constancy, perseverance, scrupulousness, but also trials and sacrifices. The positive aspects are easily assimilated to the Saturnian symbolism of time, which in its regular rhythm builds attitudes as well as geological eras. However, the atoning character arises by the temporal attribute (Cronus devouring his children). In the context of personal history, the test is the choice offered between a destiny that wants to follow instinctive reminders without giving up the satisfaction that derives from them and fate that leads to elevation through the sacrificial offering of one’s time. The saturnine type is often unconsciously oriented towards this second chance, so he perceives the problematic events of existence as a means to self-improvement rather than an adverse destiny.
- Rudhyar, Dane – The Galactic Dimension of Astrology – New York 1975
- Sicuteri, Roberto – Astrologia e Mito (Astrology and Myth) – Roma 1978
- Greene, Liz – Saturn – York Beach, Maine 1976