The planet Saturn helps humans understand the idea of linear time and the limitations of earthly needs.
According to the classical septenary, Saturn is recognised as the outermost planet in the solar system, disregarding – for the moment – the trans-Saturnian planets. Its orbit acts as a boundary between the solar system and the rest of the cosmos. This interpretation aligns with the anatomical attributions of astrology, which see Saturn ruling the skin.
According to Rudhyar, Saturn is a vital component of social consciousness, representing the culmination of a relationship with the planet in the context of social belonging. The ultimate goal is to surrender individual desires to the greater good of the community, fostering a sense of shared identity and self-awareness. From a societal perspective, Saturn’s symbolism is characterised by its stability and permanence, which form the foundation for constructs like law and order. This group experience promotes mutual respect and allows for the development of a common coexistence that honours individuality. Much like a skeleton supports the body’s organs, Saturn provides a framework for individuals to compare themselves to their peers based on their respective roles.
When Saturn’s stability is demanded as an absolute requirement, its negative aspects become apparent. The structures facilitating social and community cooperation can become tyrannical, and linear thinking may be treated as a sacred dogma. This is due to the loss of the sacrificial value inherent in Saturn. The symbolic offering of one’s individuality to recognise and harmonise with the broader social group is no longer possible. As Saturn defines the boundary of the Sun-centred individual structure, the subsequent work of expanding a truly integrated self into a universal vision will occur under the protection of the trans-Saturnian planets.
Astrologers’ Interpretation of Saturn
It is worth noting that Dane Rudhyar examines the Moon-Saturn connection alongside the Sun-Saturn correlation that represents the expansion of social consciousness. This psychic energy enters the consciousness field and alters its shape. The Moon infuses energy into the Saturnian structure, creating a lively form-energy combination that precedes the self’s characterisation within the human framework. Rudhyar uses a unique phrase to describe the lunar function: The Moon represents the portion of the Sun within Saturn’s boundaries. By saying this, he seems to suggest that the inclusion of Saturn in the personal equation results in the formation of a mirrored consciousness that is evident in objective experiences. This creates a framework that allows the pure presence of the self to manifest within the broader social group.
According to Liz Greene, Saturn represents a process of self-discovery that utilises difficult experiences, discipline, and restriction to attain a deeper understanding of oneself and reach the Self archetype. Saturn is often associated with challenging events beyond one’s control, earning it the title of “Lord of Karma”. However, the critical concept to understand is that individuals unknowingly create their destiny by projecting their inner models onto reality, manifesting them as Saturn’s trials. These limitations become a crucial testing ground for individuals to recognise their true nature and resolve internal conflicts. Through this lens, Saturn’s trials are like a test that illuminates the path towards integrating opposing forces, transforming the lead of Saturn into the alchemical gold of integrated consciousness.
According to Italian astrologer and psychologist Roberto Sicuteri, Saturn represents the connection between matter and spirit. This planet marks the end of the individual’s physical experience and opens up social or spiritual growth opportunities. The planet’s glyph shows the cross of matter above the hyperbolic curve of spirit, symbolising this dichotomy. Although Sicuteri offers a Jungian-oriented psychoanalytic interpretation of the symbol, some astrologers disagree as they see astrology as a means of transcending individual limitations rather than a purely psychological tool.
The figure of Cronus, also known as Saturn in his Time Lord form, is often associated with devouring his own offspring as he emphasises the Senex aspect over the Puer. This represents his desire to eliminate any notion of posterity that could undermine his absolute power. By emasculating his father, he attempts to break free from any dependence on an uncontrollable principle. From a psychological perspective, Cronus symbolises the disruption of the cosmic order to achieve freedom at a high cost, as a filial sacrifice is required not to enter into measurable time. He seeks to halt the progression of time by encapsulating it within an overwhelming ego concept. Essentially, Cronus becomes an incomplete version of Uranus as the Titan yearns to restore a mythical, timeless existence in a world that now operates under a linear, historical perspective.
In the Hesiod mythology of Theogony, the story of Cronus, also known as Saturn in Roman mythology, is about a mighty Titan born from the union of Gaia, Mother Earth, and Uranus, the starry sky. Cronus’ father, Uranus, was a cruel parent who hid his newborn children deep within the earth. This led to Gaia creating the essence of iron in her bowels and expelling a scythe, urging Cronus to overthrow his father by castrating him. Cronus later married his sister, Rhea, and devoured the children born with Rhea, fearing his father’s prophecy that had predicted the same fate. However, one of his sons, Zeus-Jupiter, escaped and eventually dethroned Cronus and confined him to Tartarus.
According to Hesiod’s myth, paternal castration resulted in the separation of heaven from earth. This led to the establishment of the obliquity of the ecliptic, which marked the beginning of measurable time and broke the original unity. Saturn becomes the first planet to appear in the sky of fixed stars to rule the universe’s motion. Together with the other planetary gods, it counterbalances the stellar fixity, which testifies to the essence of the Being beyond any change. Under Uranus’ rule, the world’s first generation lived in substantial equilibrium. Still, the Father called his children Titans, giving them a reprehensible name for their iniquity and terrible crime, which they would one day pay for. The Titan is the “dilator”, according to the Greek etymology of the word; it mythically represents the astronomical upheaval that marks man’s detachment from the cosmos. Time begins to shatter the eras of humanity from the moment when the heliacal rising of a constellation no longer coincides with the reference zodiac sign. This loss of perfection marks the end of the Golden Age, giving rise to empires and civilisations and mercilessly dragging them into oblivion.
The Latin author Macrobius tells us in great detail the myth of separation from heaven:
After the end of the celestial generation, Venus Aphrodite oversaw the procreation of men and women, beginning the cycle of humanity. Saturn’s sleep near the island of Ogygia serves as a reminder of man’s lost Edenic past, still alive in legends and myths.
In his writings, Macrobius again portrays Saturn as auctor temporum (architect of the seasons), a skilled farmer who determines the appropriate times and places to plant, tend and harvest crops. Agriculture plays a significant role in traditional cultures as it highlights the connection between the cycles of heaven and earth.
- Saturn played a role in the beginning of human civilisation. It is said that humans once lived in a paradise-like state ruled by Uranus. Still, they eventually fell into a physical world governed by time and reproduction due to sexual differentiation.
- Saturn, as a master farmer, connects the cycles of the earth’s seasons to the unchanging patterns of the heavens through the act of planting and harvesting.
- In the classical septenary, Saturn serves as the external border of the solar system, much like how the skin acts as a boundary between the body and the outside world.
- Saturn symbolises the skeleton, teeth, horny appendages, and mineral apparatus of the organism. The mineral state signifies the highest density of matter, which is the complete physical manifestation of the spiritual state.
- Saturn represents concentration, solitude, analysis, rationality, essentiality, depth, and meditative attitudes on a mental level. These are all qualities that relate to the symbolism of the planet and, in the intellectual field, guide the conscience towards elevation.
- Morally, Saturn symbolises constancy, perseverance, and attention but also involves trials and sacrifices. Its positive aspects are easily associated with the regular rhythm of time, which builds strong attitudes and geological eras. The temporal attribute of Saturn is also seen in its role as a devourer (Cronos, who devours his children), which gives the planet a sacrificial character. In personal history, we are offered choices between a destiny that follows instinctive calls without renouncing satisfaction and a future that requires sacrificing our time to achieve elevation. The saturnine type often chooses the latter, viewing problematic events in life as opportunities for self-improvement rather than adverse fate.
- Dane Rudhyar – The Galactic Dimension of Astrology – New York 1975
- Roberto Sicuteri – Astrologia e Mito (Astrology and Myth) – Roma 1978
- Liz Greene – Saturn – York Beach, Maine 1976