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). It then separates the solar system from the rest of the cosmos, limiting it with its orbit; in this, it agrees with the anatomical attributions of astrology, 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 purpose of the solar expression, which manifests itself in a shared life where the individual can express his nature, 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 the individuality of each one. Just as the skeleton supports the organs, Saturn guarantees a social scheme in which individuals can be compared to others according to their role.
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, linear thought as an indispensable dogma. All this is because the sacrificial value inherent in Saturn is lost. There is no longer a way to offer one’s individuality symbolically to recognise and harmonise in the larger social group. As Saturn draws the boundary of the individual Sun-centred structure, the subsequent expansion of a self genuinely integrated into the universal vision will occur under the protection of the trans-Saturnian planets.
Saturn as seen by astrologers
We can note that Dane Rudhyar, in addition to the Sun-Saturn polarisation to represent the social expansion of consciousness, also considers the Moon-Saturn dyad. This psychic energy flows into the field of consciousness, changing its contours. 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. With this, he seems to affirm that the entry of Saturn into the personal equation allows the formation of a reflected consciousness, which reveals itself in objective experience; it is the creation of a structure that will enable the pure presence of the self to manifest itself in the larger social group.
For Liz Greene, Saturn symbolises a psychic process that uses the experiences of pain, restrictions and discipline to achieve a greater degree of awareness and approach the archetype of the Self. The critical and limiting incidents behind which Saturn hides stem 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 human beings create their destiny by unconsciously bringing to reality those who are their inner models, which then present themselves as Saturnian trials. Hence, limiting experiences become the testing ground through which individuals recognise their true self. From this point of view, they are like a test indicating the main path towards the resolution of duality; it is necessary to realise a broader awareness in which light and dark represent the extremes through which to transform the lead of Saturn into the alchemical gold of integrated consciousness.
Roberto Sicuteri (Italian astrologer and psychologist) sees in Saturn the link between matter and Spirit, meaning that the planet puts an end to the individual experience whose expression, from here on, goes beyond 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. However, as a psychologist of Jungian orientation, Sicuteri gives the symbol a purely psychoanalytic interpretation; while interesting, he risks placing himself upstream of esoteric symbolism, nullifying the efforts of those who see astrology as an instrument for overcoming the purely individual condition.
In his Time Lord aspect, Cronus (Saturn) devours his children by making the Senex aspect prevail over the Puer. It is the castrating ogre who wants to erase the idea of a posterity that undermines the foundations of his absoluteness with his sonship. With his father’s emasculation, he tries to end the addiction to a principle that is, in turn, uncontrollable. On the level of depth psychology, he represents the breaking of the cosmic order for freedom paid for at a high price because the entry from there forward in measurable time imposes a filial sacrifice. He attempts to stop time by encapsulating it in an overwhelming ego concept. In a 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, 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 expels a scythe, instigating Cronus to emasculate his father. Subsequently, Cronus marries his sister Rea and, mindful of his father’s prophecy, devours the children he had with Rea for fear of being thrown out. One of these, Zeus-Jupiter, escapes the sad fate with a stratagem and dethrones him by confining him to Tartarus.
What, then, was the result of the paternal castration 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, the rupture of the original unity. Saturn, the first planet that appears in the sky of the fixed stars, figures as the ruler of the motion of the Universe. To the stellar fixity, the testimony of the essence of Being beyond every change, counterparts the procession of the planetary gods: they are the immanent expression of the mute will of heaven. Under Uranus’ rule, the world’s first generation 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 by a reprehensible name because they were guilty of iniquity by committing a terrible crime, for which one day they would pay the penalty. The Titan is the “dilator”, according to the Greek etymology of the word. He mythically represents the astronomical upheaval that marks man’s detachment 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 traditions of all times, the end of the Golden Age. From that moment on, time begins to shatter the eras of humanity, giving rise to empires and civilisations and dragging 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 brings in the end what it generates. In his Saturnalia, he tells us in great detail the separation from the heavens: “Having Saturn cut off the genitals of his father Heaven, and after throwing them into the sea, Venus was born who, from the name of the foam (in Greek afrós) from which it took shape, was called Aphrodite. As the different principles descend from heaven and as the various elements that make 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, the faculty of generating through fluids (ex humore) depended on the Venusian action; 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 (i.e., physical philosophers, those who seek the Physis or the nature of external things, the laws and substance of the material and measurable world) gave the god the name of Saturn, from Sathimus, derived from satheh, which has the meaning of a virile member.” Once the celestial generation ceases, the procreation from man and woman takes over under the auspices of Aphrodite, who begins the cycle of humanity. Macrobius, also in his work, describes Saturn as auctor temporum (seasons’ architect), a master farmer who designates the times and places of sowing, cultivation 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. From a pre-existing Edenic state ruled by Uranus (Heaven), human beings “fall” into the material dimension ruled by time and generation through the differentiation of the sexes.
- Saturn is a master farmer who, through sowing and harvesting, 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 outer border of the solar system.
- The skeleton, the teeth, the horny appendages and the mineral apparatus of the organism. 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 conscience tending towards 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. The sacrificial character is always given by the temporal attribute seen in his role as a devourer (Cronus devouring his children). In the context of personal history, trials are the choices offered between a destiny that wants to follow the instinctive calls without giving up the satisfaction that derives from them and a future that leads to elevation through the sacrificial offering of one’s time. The saturnine type is often unconsciously oriented towards this second possibility, so they perceive the problematic events of existence as a means to improve themselves rather than as an adverse fate.
- 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