Hello again, and welcome back to journeys. Today I am re-pesenting a weighty article on Saturn written in the winter of 2005. This was the last major update to the astral visions website. Over the coming months I will be adding to this series with planned articles on Chiron, Uranus, Neptune and finally Pluto.
The Titan Gate
An exploration of Saturnine consciousness
For my Grandmothers, Lillian Barnett and Frances Coleman
The ocean changes its aspect constantly, but in essence it remains the same;
so also the Spirit spins forth this dream of cosmos in which It swims in the ocean
of change, yet remains essentially the same unaffected Spirit.
– Paramahansa Yogananda
We stand before a time shadowed door. It is old, old beyond counting. It is an archway of dusty stone that stretches from one side of infinity to the other. Beyond it is the void. Behind is the rest of the multiverse – we are at the boundary of known space, peering into the endless depth of time, which is tunnelling relentlessly towards us like the pinpricks of Light we call stars we see when we look up at the night sky and view the radiance of the aeons staring back from all directions. We do not remember how we came to be here, what we are doing here, or even, in the final analysis, what we are. Where are we?
We are inside a physical body. The door is the ancient soul, that ineffable something we see shifting behind the physical eyes, framed and bound like a portal that looks out onto infinity, a masterpiece in a gallery. The boundary of space is the end of our physical and astral existence, as well as the beginning of it. Beyond the threshold that most dreaded of occult beings, The Dweller, waits to test us. To step across the boundary is to fall forever in shadow, to be lost in eternity, to face ones personal end and submit to inevitable, limiting death. Yet the sky as infinite space and time cannot be limited or hurt by anything and we are a droplet of this infinity, fallen like rain and dew upon the Earth, a little world drawn from out of the infinitely infinite ocean for a time, cradling the omnipresent spirit.
We have struggled long and worked hard to get here. We have toiled, sacrificed, weakened, hungered, survived and laboured under the trials of life. We have grown in understanding through our experience; we are elderly and matured wines ready to be consumed, shared, judged and stored in the cellar again for a later time. We await birth, or flee death.
The void surges. Is this all there is? We peer, hard and stern, beyond the Titan Gate, into the swollen dark … and for a timeless moment, our whole being freezes as we think we perceive a vast form rolling beneath the surface. It is as if the veil covering the face of Nature bulges slightly and a portion of Her naked features become visible. We are wordless, feeling suddenly ancient, more than ancient, we feel eternity brushing up against our spirit, and it yearns for us like a Mother…
We have come in the fullness of our astrological journey with these essays to Saturn’s doorstep. This is, without doubt, the most maligned planet in astrology (Pluto would win that title if it were measured by intensity, but he hasn’t been around for the donkeys years that Saturn has, so Saturn gets the ‘award’ on grounds of extreme longevity). It is truly only in the last century or two that a clearer perspective of this planet has begun to emerge in our understanding, and when you consider that Saturn was ancient to the Babylonians you may begin to appreciate the timescale involved here. It has been known for millennia as the Greater Malefic (Mars being the lesser, but don’t tell Mars he’s the lesser anything!) and has been consulted in matters relating to downfall, ruin, separation, infirmity, death, illness, fear, material loss and all kinds of ghastly misfortune, being seen by astrologers, on the whole, as a planet with almost no virtues. Those virtues it did possess were hardly sexy or warm qualities – stoicism, seriousness, realism, patience, tact, slowness, scepticism, caution, detachment, thrift, self discipline, regulation, authority and responsible control being among those. These qualities, however, are nowhere near as commonly emphasised in astrological texts as the more restrictive, pessimistic, destructive and depressing ones, and in truth it must be admitted that these have their place (note for example, the Saturn opposite Chiron aspect just before the recent Asian earthquake and tsunami disaster, in which 150,000+ people met their doom, and interestingly at a time when Saturn was in Cancer, a sign essentially pregnant with water). A magician, however, knows that nothing is entirely bad or so thoroughly evil in its effects, and these obscured dimensions of Saturn are only now beginning to found themselves in our awareness; it is these dimensions I wish to focus on, but before I do so you may need a firmer and more solid basis from which to draw forth your own deeper understanding – this is quite simply the last of the truly personal planets (I will explain this further later), and this far out we are entering more abstract realms expressing notions that require a certain degree of maturity to comprehend. For this reason, I will begin with a discussion of Saturns more mundane and well known attributes. I would feel remiss, however, if I did not state from the outset that there is in truth nothing evil, malefic, cruel or malicious about Saturn’s nature whatsoever. There is a cavernous trove of ancient treasures waiting for us to unearth, in fact, if we are willing to do the work. Indeed, we could learn much of Saturn’s hidden potential simply by studying its material features, its elder history and its mythological lore.
The Lord of the Rings
Saturn is the 6th planet out from the Sun and second only to Jupiter in size, being about 750 times larger than the Earth, but the only planet in the solar system that is less dense than water (in other words, it is so buoyant that it would actually float in water – a significant clue). Like Jupiter it is a gas giant circled by bands of wind and belts of weather roaring at speeds of 1500 km per hour – two thirds the speed of sound. The bands are less colourful than Jupiter’s, because the gravity of Saturn is relatively weaker than Jupiters (hence the curious density phenomena), and so the clouds are less dense and reach a greater depth so that the colours are muted and obscured by an upper atmospheric haze. These bands also contain huge storm systems and strange clouds of blue, red, white and brown.
Saturn’s gravity is just slightly greater than that of Earth but it is a freezing world (-180c) with an atmosphere comprised largely of hydrogen and helium, a daily rotation of 10.2 hours, and a year lasting about 29.5 Earth years. It is thus the slowest moving planet visible to the naked eye (Uranus is only sometimes faintly visible) and was used anciently as an epochal time keeper. It is notably slightly squished at the poles (oblate), a result of its fluid state and rapid rotation, among other (unknown) properties.
Perhaps most famous or well know of all the solar systems planets due to its spectacular system of rings, Saturn is the furthest planet visible from Earth without the aid of a telescopic lens. It is barely visible to the naked eye, in fact, being curiously posited at the same distance from Jupiter as Jupiter is from the Sun – and this pattern is repeated with the next planet out, Uranus, which is a staggering 1,780,000,000 miles from the Sun, a fact which explains why Uranus was not discovered until relatively recently. It seems appropriate to mention here, in fact, that there is a definite mathematical structure to the arrangement of our solar system, a repeating pattern of distances, if one includes the asteroid belt as a cosmic body – and many occult philosophies hold that in reality there was a planet there once which was destroyed (see Bodes law for this equation, and note, this mathematical pattern is not a law of physics – there is no scientific explanation for this ‘coincidence’ as yet, so it is feebly dismissed).
To put this distance in some kind of human perspective, if you were to scale things down we could say that if the Earth were only 36 inches (91.44 centimetres) from the Sun, Saturn would be an average of 29 feet (8.83 metres). It is a relatively huge, vast distance away, and the rings were not discovered until Galileo (who also observed the Moons of Jupiter) first observed Saturn through a telescope in 1609. Initially they were visible only as a smudged couple of blobs and Galileo theorised they were separate objects, perhaps moons, one on each side, and he described them as ‘ears’ (a fact which delighted astrologers of the time, who had long held up Saturn as a planet of hearing and deafness – you can imagine their later delight when they heard about the rings). He recorded their positions as fixed, but two years after observing them Galileo was puzzled to observe that the ‘ears’ could no longer be observed – and then they reappeared in 1613. It was only later, in 1655, that they were established as rings. Kabbalists may be interested to note here that at the time of the discovery of the rings, Galileo wrote to the Duke of Tuscany that:
“Saturn is not one alone but is composed of three, which almost touch one another…”
These rings comprise a deep occult mystery which I will leave to those who will seek it out to uncover in their own way. For the moment, let us continue our survey of Saturn’s physical and surface features.
The rings disappeared from view because of a quite astonishing feature they possess – though they are approximately 275,000 km across, they are only about 100m deep. Approximately every 15 years they are edge on when viewed from Earth and vanish from view (the last occasion was in 1995, the next occurs in September 2009). Saturn also has seasons like Earth, and this axial tilt also brings about a subsequent tilt of the rings. It was the astronomer Christian Huygens who made the initial identification of the rings, a man whose name is now borne by the international probe set to land on clouded Titan, a huge Saturnine moon larger than Mercury and Pluto, in just a few hours from now.
Saturn’s moons – over 33 as of August 2004, 18 of which are named after the Greek Titans – orbit from between about 133,000 km (Pan) to 13,000,000 km (Phoebe), and range in size from a 10km radius (Pan) to a whopping 2575 km radius (Titan, the second largest moon in the solar system – only Ganymede of Jupiter is larger). They are extremely varied and exotic and come in some distinctive forms. One of them (Iapetus) has the strongest resemblance to the Death Star from the Star Wars films, complete with a huge circular depression, an impact crater deeper than Everest is high from a collision which almost destroyed it (“that’s no space station, that’s a moon!”). There is good evidence that the rings themselves contain the detritus of at least one smashed Saturn moon – the work of the 19th century astronomer Edouard Roche shows that gravitational tidal forces will tear apart any planetary satellite if it approaches within a certain distance of a planet, the boundary at which this occurs being 2.4 times the radius of Saturn, the distance at which Saturn’s rings begin to form.
From an earthly perspective, then, Saturn is an unremarkable, somewhat dull looking, blurry, ashen or greenish blob, but up close it wears a truly breathtaking halo, and is, in my personal opinion, easily the most spectacular extra-terrestrial object in our system, with the possible exception of the Sun itself. Jupiter may be grand and majestic, bursting with incalculable abundant energies, but Saturn’s structure and grace lend it a symphonic poise and a complex, dynamic order which are far more staggering to behold. The fragile ice crystals and dust particles of the slender but broad disc of rings glisten, shine and reflect like billions of diamonds when the solar light strikes them, they cast shimmering patterns upon the clouded surface of Saturn that shift ethereally like moonlight upon the surface of the sea, while the synchronously rotating moons drift in and out of the field of ice and dust, causing their irregularly shaped bodies to throw shadows which lengthen and retreat along the plane of crystalline matter like the hands of a sundial. As they move in and out of the field of the rings, the impacts of the moons and of tiny stellar materia from light and meteoroids cause sonic displacements – sounds – to resonate from the rings in radio waves, distinct 1-3 second tones which blend into music. No-one can stand before such a thing and remain untouched by the delicate balance of substance and light, matter and shadow, sound and vision, the slow dance of solid and fluid forms, the almost unbelievable equilibrium of complex individual features orchestrated in perfect harmony.
The mythology of Saturn is on the surface somewhat dark. It is the mythology of death, the descent of infinite spirit into limiting matter and the creation of time and ageing. Much of the original mythology of Saturn is so ancient now that it is completely lost to human records. It pre-dates the Great Deluge and knowledge of the tales perished with the destruction. Yet it filtered through, enduring, and was reinterpreted by the Egyptians, Babylonians, and later the Greeks. It is the Greek tale that has been commonly handed down to us, but it is of course, as usual, easy to find words/names for – and mythic threads of – Saturn represented in almost any culture or mythology, including Babylonian (Ninurta), Egyptian (Heru-ka-pet, ‘star of the West which traverseth heaven’ – the god Horus), Arabic (Zuhal – ‘one that withdraws’), Chinese (T’u – hsing – Mandarin, ‘earth star’), Hebrew (‘Shabth’ai’ or ‘Kiwan’), and the imagery of Baphomet, to name but a few. The Roman name Saturn (or Saturnus) has held in the west, and to this intensely martial civilisation he was commonly known as the god of harvest, a scythe bearing old man wise in farming and agriculture, but to the Greeks (and a handful of Roman initiates who understood his more primal significance), he was better known as Kronos, and had a far more primordial role in the saga of the gods, which hearkens more closely to the completely timelost tales.
Kronos, or Chronos, or any number of variant spellings, was the God of Time. We recognise this even today with words like chronological, chronicle, etc, the ‘chrono’ prefix denoting a factor of time. According to the mythlore, Gaia, the Earth, produced 12 immortal children when she coupled with Ouranus (Uranus), the Sky. These 12 immortals were the Titans, and they are representative of the 12 immortal forms of the zodiac or earth zone (for example, Atlas holds up the world, and is therefore responsible for supporting the mechanism of the earth zone on his back, and thus analogous to Capricorn in this respect). Kronos was the youngest child and described as “devious and devising, the most terrible of Gaias children”. Yet it was Gaia herself, who, unhappy with Ouranos, armed Kronos with a stone scythe and urged him to castrate his own father (and half brother). Ouranos, bereft of his power to father more children, was vanquished and Kronos became supreme ruler of the world, marrying his sister, the Titan Rhea. Together, they created the Olympians. In one version of the tale, the bloodied semen of Ouranos falls upon Gaia the Earth and humanity – mortality – arises from out of the mix.
However, it was foretold by both Gaia and Ouranos that the children of Kronos would rise up and ultimately destroy him, usurping his power as he had his own fathers. To prevent this, Kronos swallowed every one of his own children immediately after they were born. Understandably grief stricken and enraged by this loss, Rhea spirited one of her children away from Kronos by hiding in Crete. She gave Kronos a baby sized stone wrapped in a blanket to swallow. This child, Zeus, was raised secretly by nymphs until as a man he poisons Kronos, causing him to regurgitate all the immortal children (including the stone!) and then engages his father in a long and turbulent conflict with the Titans before sealing them in Tartarus, a great iron fortress with unbreakable gates located in a grim pit at the edge of the world. Zeus (Jupiter) then took over his fathers’ position from Mount Olympus. This tale comes originally from Asian mythology.
Magicians, alchemists and kabbalists will find much to reflect on in this story. It shows in a symbolic way the process by which time and physical forms came into being, and furthermore, the descent of Divine thought through god-forms into more approachable individual symbols. We might say that the scythe of Saturn tri-sects the infinite and arranges it into bundles, which are then worked in a furnace of collective experience to make the bread that is fit for immediate human consumption. He is the conscience teacher and keeper of time, the master of the karma of the material plane, Malkuth, the final judgement over us as we face the inevitable consequences of our actions in the material past.
This position demonises him – he is the hard distant one, the authority, the one who cannot be swayed by pity but must be the ultimate arbiter of Divine laws on Earth. He therefore punishes, lays down the law, controls and obstructs in the mythology as much as he does in astrological reality, but it is meaningful in both cases. Because of what he represents – the shadowed, unknown borderlands of the psyche, the distant Lord of causation – he is feared, denied and blamed. It is easier for us to look at ourselves and say “I’m not bad, quite a decent person really, a few flaws, but nothing major” and then go on to blame the government, or the foreign nationals, the corporations, the immigrants, homos, blacks, commies, the television or whatever for all the evils in the world. Even children do this, singling out certain individuals for mockery and projecting the group shadow upon them. Even in our grown up lives we must deal with the reality of social ostracism and in extreme cases with the kind of atrocities we witnessed in world war two. It shouldn’t be a surprise then, that the word Saturn bears a striking similarity to Satan, that most convenient of scapegoats, who removes human responsibility from the picture altogether – and does the image of ‘The Adversary’ itself not have cloven hooves, and curled horns, like a certain sign of the zodiac, Capricorn…? There is witchery afoot here!
A Very, Very Old Devil
This devilish imagery, in fact, conceals the fact that at one time Saturn was worshipped in his manifestation as the goat god, Pan, the witch’s deity, and sundry other nature deities and spirits. The symbol for Saturn’s sign, Capricorn, was not originally referred to as simply a goat but as a goat-fish, a goat with the tail end of a fish on its hind quarters. This hybrid figure was a creature of wisdom, for it was not only depicted as having two erect horns, symbols of the earthly awareness and spirit seeking or attaining divine connection, it also (like human skin) bridged the Elemental planes of Water and Earth, being equally at home within the oceans of the unconscious and the mountain depths and heights, and thus able to both deal with the unconscious realistically and pragmatically, but also able to propel itself through unconscious attunement to astral factors. When these ways of nature worship were themselves demonised by more organised religions, the imageries of Pan and his ilk were largely transferred to the Christian devil. Intriguingly, this move compacted the consequences described earlier for astrology – the true significance of Saturn was lost amid portents of doom, death, loss and misery, – ‘the wages of sin’, and only in our recent re- understanding of Saturn have we begun to redeem this karma, in no small part due to the work and influence of Carl Jung whose writings on the Shadow have paved the way for a mass revival of this understanding (and who was known to practice astrology in psychological counselling). It is alchemy rather than astrology which has retained a truer sense of this planets essential meaning, a meaning which is now at last re-emerging.
Below you will find a condensed account of my own personal explanation of the trinity of principles I see at work in Saturn, drawn from my own experiences. After that, I will begin explaining his astrological correspondences, followed by a discussion of his activity and designs within the birth chart.
Form, Fate & Time
Saturn is a complex principle with many facets and manifestations for us to explore. Essentially, as the boundary of visible space, it is the limit of our perception, the ‘ring pass not’ of occult philosophy, the point at which our vision and awareness fail and our progress is obstructed, perhaps irreversibly. It is thus the Shadow, the psychological aspect which remains forever unknown and apart from us through our self denial of certain qualities. To put it another way, it is likely that we have all had the experience whereby we hear someone close to us profess an absolute hatred of a certain quality, when it is clear to us and other outside observers that these are the very qualities this person possess themselves, yet vehemently deny. Most of us are honest enough to admit that we know this phenomenon of projection is at work within ourselves, too. This is Saturn at work. It is the Achilles heal, the blind spot, the limitation in our awareness which makes us all cripples, for if we are not conscious of it, it invariably throws many kinds of misfortune our way until we finally get it and face up to the part of ourselves that draws these misfortunes to us. Thus, it is a fatal flaw, which, unless transformed, will inevitably bring us down.
Additionally, because Saturn must set the boundaries of material experience in order for us to learn of our own fatal flaw and bring about the correct conditions which will enable our karmic release, he is the principle of form since it is our form which defines where our boundaries lie. Where there is a boundary or membrane between one state of being and another, be it skin, wall, national border or cosmic ring, Saturn is there, marking out the space between them.
So, we might say that his chief principles are a trinity of Time, Fate and Form, but that these 3 are simply arbitrary notions, words, describing something that is, in reality, the same thing, and that therefore there is no difference between any of these 3 notions at least from the perspective of Saturn. The essential form of the seed of the mighty oak contains the structure and pattern of the tree and its entire life cycle, its span of time and its fate, as well as its form AND that of the forest it may ultimately aspire to, just as the womb does for the human soul, and in life, the influence of Saturn. Time, fate and form weave together and from the tapestry come every individual material consequence that goes into the ongoing creation, the whole of our reality. It is Saturn’s great task to test and task us personally so that we reach individual perfection and a holistic understanding of all our experiences, but most especially those experiences which tax and trouble us, and those which can only be comprehended under the compression of material existence.
Correspondences of Saturn
Now that you have a basic understanding of the principles of Saturn as I see them, let us look at some of the analogies or correspondences of this planet according to traditional astrology. First, we will look at some of the general correspondences, those which relate to Saturn’s principle in general, and then we will look at three dimensions in which each of us experience the astrological Saturn – through the lens of the earth zone (by position in sign and by house), by aspect, and finally through its cycles, the well known Saturn return transits. Each of these 3 ways of looking at Saturn resonates with and is analogous to one of the 3 principles I have outlined above –
- Form (natal sign and house)
- Fate (Saturn natal aspects), and
- Time (Saturn cycles or transits)
Yet these structured distinctions are by no means absolutes and a proper astrological evaluation of Saturn blends all of these principles together to emerge with a whole perspective and a more solid understanding. The truth of the matter is, however, that no astrologer can fully delineate Saturn to any other being – it is a private matter, fully comprehensible only to the inner self of the individual involved and the Divine.
According to my trusty but rather dated Encyclopaedia of Medical Astrology, Saturn has a long list of qualities, among them:
“austere, centripetal, chastening, corrective, obstructive, binding, cheerless, crystallising, crushing, cold, dry, deathly, defective, delaying, pallid, slow, diurnal, dull, denying, frugal, enduring, fearful, envious, hindering, frigid, grave, gloomy, inhibiting, invalidating, bonding, chronic, lingering, materialistic, miserly, melancholic, distrustful, morbid, ossifying, paralyzing, proud, reclusive, repressive, pitiless, restraining, rigid, servile, serious, severe, solitary, sullen, heavy, torpid”
I have already listed some of the more constructive and positive qualities at the beginning of this essay, most of which are concerned with discipline, regulation and pragmatism. Saturn’s colour is black, but it also has rulership over all dull, greying, weathered and darkened tones, its tastes are sour and bitter or sharp, and its aromas are musty, ancient and astringent. Its tones are low, deep, ponderous and melancholy.
In the mineral kingdom, Saturn is represented by lead. This is the most ancient metal to be extracted from ores (over 9000 years ago at least) and has some very obvious Saturnine features. First it is very heavy and dull. Second, lead stores in the bone tissue (as the structural form of the body, the skeleton is all Saturn). Of the seven planetary metals it is the slowest conductor of electricity and the least resonant, being sluggish and existing on the periodic table of elements at a boundary where elements above it are too heavy to remain stable. That is, radioactive elements decay until they reach lead, at which point they can no longer decay and leave a lead isotope as a trace, and this, essentially, is one method of how we may date the age of rocks. Lead poisoning – also called ‘Saturnism’ – leads to typical Saturn symptoms such as heaviness, tiredness, fatigue, depression, and headache. Lead is extremely tough, enduring and resilient. Saturn is also linked with the vast array of lustreless, rough stones of the countryside, those which have no overt shine or glamour to them, the rubble and dust and detritus of stones, as well as to coal and thus also to an extent to diamonds.
In the plant kingdom, Saturn has many correspondences. Among the trees sacred to Saturn are the Pine, Cypress, Sallow, English Yew, Blackthorn, Elm, Beech and White and Black Poplars, while the fruits, shrubs and flowers include all the roots and parts which are beneath the ground, and specifically comfrey, sage, vervain, spinach, angelica, wolf-bane, cumin, horsetail, barley, hemlock, tamarisk, hemp, nightshade, hellebore, moss, arrach, fern, polypods and all foods which must be patiently harvested or matured. These remedies work through astringent binding, they restrict and constrict fluid in the tissues of the body and thus reduce inflammation and soreness and dull pain. Many of the Saturn herbs are toxic or simply poisonous and must be handled responsibly.
In the animal kingdom I have already mentioned the goat and the mythic goat-fish, and to this we must also add any beast which dwells upon the mountain, or in caves or other gloomy, cold, dark regions of the Earth, or is somehow possessed of longevity, or of an ancient prehistoric lineage, such as the elephant, crocodile, the giant tortoise or the fossilised remains of dinosaurs.
The human being is of course our prima materia in observing the principle effects and influences attributed to Saturn. As stated, Saturn rules internally and structurally over the skeletal system (including teeth), but he also has rulership over the skin, the joints, bladder, spleen, right ear and the composition and circulation of blood through tissues (where he has the opposite effect to Mars, drawing heat in and away from the surface, thus it is hard to cause a truly Saturnine person to blush in shame or embarrassment). Saturns normal effect in the occult anatomy of the body is literally to organise and order the Elements and thus to mature and age the form, in the process furnishing the material body with minerals and salts in the proper proportions, but as time winds on, the minerals and various wastes of the body are distributed unevenly, are retained or accumulate in deposits, thus hardening and crystallising the physical body, until death by old age or disease results. The sign in which Saturn is when we are born is often indicative of a specific body process and area which is naturally frail or becomes brittle, weak or worn down by deposits as time passes unless greater persistent attention is given to restructure it.
Due to its cold, dry melancholic nature Saturn causes disease and death through frigid, hardened, languid, chronic conditions, as well as through mental states like despondency, despair and depression, and is thus a factor in decumbiture (time of taking to bed with illness) brought on by exposure, chills, starvation, hygiene and infirmity, such as arthritis, spinal or back disorders, blocked arteries, gangrene, lice, bronchitis, bruising, gout, dull aches, cavities, cramps, tuberculosis, eczema, mumps, flu (especially with cold chills, runny nose and eyes, breathing arrest and muscle fatigue), palsy, strokes, piles, tumours, the slow but advanced progression of chronic and incurable conditions, and plain old old age. The conditions of Saturn can be treated antipathically by the remedies of the Sun and Moon, Mars and Venus, or sympathetically by those of Saturn or on occasion Mars.
In the external environment, Saturn is, as previously stated, all forms of boundary, border or portal, with particular respect to things which are historical, elderly or ruined. All desolate, dark, dirty, rotted or sparsely inhabited places come under his rule (Saturn is a lonely planet, whose nearest neighbour Jupiter lies practically equidistant between him and the Sun), as well as all locations which open and descend into the ground, such as mines, hidden vales, caves and wells. He has rulership over all manner of sectarian organisations and secluded locales and is thus the ruler of monasteries, churchyards and nunneries, retirement homes and prisons and through rulership over mortality he is also the significator of graves, burial mounds, mortuaries and undertakers. Within the home, Saturn is signified by all cold, dark places, areas where rubbish, ash, or waste are stored, cold, damp cellars or other underground structures, old drains, areas where dust, mud and grime accumulate, and with extremely chilly areas like the refrigerator or the freezer.
Each created material thing has a fundamental form. This form expresses what it is; it is a representation of its own depth point, its essential meaning. Each form is unique because each moment is unique, and what is born of this moment has the qualities of this moment. We are living breathing embodiments of the solar system, microcosmic universes in human form, each of us interacting with the others – and so too is everything else. Consider this magnificent dance of form for a moment! The reality of form also serves to define not only what a thing is, but what it is not, and thus a boundary is established which provides the structure for the creations reality and experience. To give an extreme example, a cup is not a car and it cannot be used as one – the form of the cup limits as well as defines it in this capacity. Black is not White and vice versa. Forms begin, exist, and end.
The principle focus of Saturn is on realities. The forms our bodily experiences of limitation and fear take are our ultimate lessons in reality. They teach us what we can and cannot achieve and lead us to admit our faults and failings, and they lead us to continually strive to improve and perfect ourselves. The position of Saturn in our birth chart shows the form the main life lessons will take, both in terms of where we will run up against them most frequently, and in terms of the Elemental form, i.e. whether it will be a test of Fire, Air, Earth or Water. This form is determined according to the precise needs of the individual; Saturn is the architect of the soul, it presents us with exactly what we need to experience, precisely when we need to experience it, so that we may overcome our illusions about reality permanently. As the architect of form, Saturn knows where the weakness lies, it knows where reality will insert itself and whither and work away the materia until it breaks down. It also knows that this weakness is by its nature often a blind spot. It thus presents us with some extremely difficult and often oppressive lessons and restrictions, but only so that we will become conscious of our lessons, and, like lead, transmute the form of our experience into alchemical gold.
It is often written in astrological works that Saturn represents a depletion of energy in some area, a poverty or lack in some direction, and this is often the experience, but it is only a half truth. The reality is that Saturn represents a titanic energy that we deny. The limitation is self imposed, an inevitable result of our karma and our inadequacies. As we are multi-dimensional entities squeezed into a material form, it is hardly surprising that we deny a pretty huge part of our energies, and Saturn is at hand to harvest these denied urges and resources. Another way of looking at this is to realise that each one of us, being physical, is going to die, we all know this, and this looks pretty limiting from our point of view, a factor which is continuously present in the back of our minds and must surely eat up lots of energy with worry and fear. Until we face it. Then it becomes a towering strength.
Fear is, then, one of the most common manifestations of Saturn, but that fear is a product of our denial of our immortality, our awareness of separation from the timeless, an awareness that is illusory and thus requires only an adjustment in our awareness to dispel. To most this adjustment does not take place until after physical death, but for the magician it is a conscious choice, made in each living moment of the eternal now. This state does not recognise fear or death in the way these things are usually regarded. The essential difference between someone who handles Saturn and one who does not (and thus the differential involved in whether Saturn makes our life difficult or just plain impossible) is a simple one: it is in whether or not the individual is prepared to examine themselves for the inner quality that draws certain misfortunes to them, whether or not they are responsible and mature enough to accept that they are not without flaws and faults, and being willing to persistently work them out. To such an individual, Saturn is a source of enduring strength and a faultless beacon shining the path to their goal.
In general, we may take 3 approaches to the problem of Saturn; the illumined approach, which I have outlined above, has as many forms as human beings can imagine inventing, from magical initiation and alchemy to psychotherapy, hard work and divination, even to the childhood creations called ‘imaginary friends’. Any process which allows us to detach from the self and look at the here and now from an objective angle suffices. The other 2 are essentially the polarised fear based reactions to the issues represented by Saturn. Basically, we may go the route of inadequacy or overcompensation. The inadequacy aspect of this polarity expresses itself as a timidity, fear and dread of certain situations, a person who admits somewhat that they are inadequate in some area, usually with more pessimism than is really necessary. The overcompensation reactions are just the opposite; here, instead of the individual denying or rejecting identification with Saturn, they compensate for their inner sense of weakness by exaggerating its qualities. Thus, there is a person with Saturn in Aries who feels cowardly and timid, and one who is an authoritarian bully.
The position of Saturn in the earth zone or zodiac, then, is a degree of critical interest to students of the Black and White mirrors. If you know the position of Saturn in your chart, you have a clear indication of where your path to real and lasting equilibration lies. There are many sites on the internet now where you can discover which sign Saturn inhabited at your birth, so I will not produce a table of such with this essay. In discussing the basic form of the Saturn principle in the earth zone, we can benefit from our division of the zodiac into Active, Stable and Reactive signs:
Active sign lessons generally take the form of stabilizing a block of the relevant Elemental energy. An obstruction in the expression of one of the primary modes of the Elements requires a re-organisation so that the Element can be utilised. Often this requires a degree of work through effort, developing the quality over time. With Saturn in Aries, then, the fear of being a loser or coming second inhibits and denies the titanic love of challenge and competition, and leads to uncertainty and doubt regarding ones power and prowess. With Saturn in Cancer, the fear is primarily of emotional neglect, rejection and abandonment, the denial of ones need for lasting emotional bonds, with consequences leading to a tightly controlled emotional body. Saturn in Libra accentuates the fear of destructive or binding relationships, the fear of oppression through responsibility in partnership, and often leads to a detached fear of intense emotional involvements, and a dread of darkness and ugliness. Saturn in Capricorn, its ruling sign, is powerful, and emphasises the Saturn fears of material control by governments, authorities and the consequences of a lack of physical status.
Stable sign expressions of the Saturn principle generally represent chronic and rigid or controlling habit patterns that block the flow and thus cause a need for greater trust and openness to the Element in question. The Element needs to be ecstatically released rather than re-organised. A certain degree of flexibility with the Element is also often required. Thus, with Saturn in Taurus, our fear of lacking what we need to live, of poverty and material hardship, or our distrust of the physical senses and what they have to offer, must be relinquished so that we can unlock the titanic earth-power of our instinctual nature. Saturn in Leo relates to the fear of being unnoticed, unloved or mediocre, and requires us to trust in our own inner power for our sense of central importance and individual radiance. Saturn in Scorpio often accentuates the fear of death and specifically of murder or other grisly fates, it denotes a fatalistic streak in emotional matters or a blockage of open eroticism and intimacy as an expression of the deeper fear of being controlled and dominated emotionally by others. Suspicion and secrecy need to be replaced with greater emotional openness. Saturn in Aquarius blocks the Air Element in that it underlines the sense of social and intellectual alienation we can feel in society and our fear of being ostracised from the group or of being different, thus requiring a greater level of trust in our own social and intellectual individuality.
Reactive signs hosting Saturn bring out lessons which are generally concerned with forms of teaching in which we are generally learning something about the Element in question or acquiring stability with it, and are frequently mental tests and challenges which require a restructuring of opinions gathered from the Element in question. In Gemini a fear of losing the freedom to explore the world of ideas can lead to obstructed social interactions, and the individual needs to develop in study and mental comprehension in order to overcome joyless thinking. In cases, mobility may be limited in order to concentrate the mind and thought patterns. When in Virgo, the Earthy lessons concern our fears of chaos, of the realities implied by all that is unknown and uncontrolled, or unknowable, and our need is to acquire an understanding and acceptance of physical realities, especially of their fundamental flaws and weaknesses, in concentrated detail. In Sagittarius, meaninglessness pervades our sense of order and structure in life, and we need to learn how to exist with the realities of bondage to fixed routines and mundane, unadventurous pathways in order to find our true power to explore within set boundaries. Such a Saturn often features in the lives of people who live as immigrants or are denied access to higher levels of education or moral guidance. Finally, Saturn in Pisces leads to a Watery restructuring, as our vulnerability to emotional dissociation and psychic disconnection inhibits our ability to truly feel the oceanic whole of which we yearn to be a part – the lessons here are in yielding our feelings to deeper levels in which our astral solitude does not oppress us.
Like all planets Saturn has some places in the earth zone where he is somewhat accommodated and comfortable and thus in a less grumpy mood, so to speak. Generally, he is tending to be less malefic when occidental (rising after the Sun) in the day and in the signs Aries, Cancer and Leo, all of which inhibit him, and more malefic and free to cause mischief when oriental (rising before the Sun), at night, and in the signs Capricorn and Aquarius, which empowers him (the trouble is this empowerment increases his severity when the conditions are Magnetic). He is at home in every part of these two signs and is exalted by Libra (especially Libra 21 degrees) and is fallen (poorly dignified) when in Aries (especially Aries 21 degrees). Thus, his power is weakest when he is at Aries 21 deg, rising after the Sun in the daytime and strongest when he is at Libra 21 degrees or in Capricorn/Aquarius at night, and rising ahead of the Sun.
Saturn’s ability to influence the form of our lessons only begins here. He also determines through which area of life we will encounter the tests and the sense of struggle and denial most directly, by his position in relation to the daily rotation of the Earth. Astrologers divide the heavens into 12 houses, which are essentially artificial zones constructed from the position in time and space we are born into, measured and projected onto the earth zone or zodiac. They are essentially drawn from our ancestors observation of the solar disc travelling through the sky, meeting various stages on the way, before disappearing and appearing once more on the other side of the world. Each of the 12 houses or temples focuses on a specific field of experience, ranging from self identity (the 1st) to self undoing (the 12th), and the whole symbolically contains and expresses all of human experience into these 12 temples of the sky.
Whichever of these 12 temples Saturn is found in when we are born becomes the focal point for all of our hardest and most serious life issues, the field of experience in which we meet our karma most directly and an area of life we must toil to restructure so that it is no longer limiting but instead supportive, a source of greater understanding and security. Furthermore, it shapes the form of our greatest life lessons by crystallising the zodiacal meaning of Saturn discussed above into concentrated material experiences. In brief, here are some keywords for the 12 temples:
- 1st house: temple of being (power of the identity in action)
- 2nd house: temple of acquisitions (physical and material security, gain, possessions, self worth)
- 3rd house: temple of communication (social and mental learning, siblings, communications)
- 4th house: temple of memory (emotional activity, childhood, parents, habits)
- 5th house: temple of pleasure (security of spirit, power for the identity, risk, children, hobbies)
- 6th house: temple of service (physical and material learning, work, illness, debility, routine)
- 7th house: temple of partnership (mental and intellectual activity, relationships, partners, known enemies, opposite numbers)
- 8th house: temple of release (tragedy and loss, debt, seeking peace or emotional security, taboos, experience of death, shared resources)
- 9th house: temple of revelation (learning of greater identity, religion, magic, travel to far places, dreams, advanced education)
- 10th house: temple of destiny (activity and action on the material and physical plane, ambitions, public status, profession and career, perspective).
- 11th house: temple of fellowship (mental and social security, friendships, allies, ideals and hopes, group dynamics, humanity and the environment)
- 12th house: temple of undoing (solitude and isolation, emotional learning, self undoing, witchcraft, curses, hidden enemies, the self we are when we are completely alone).
In whichever of these areas Saturn is located we will have a titanic energy which we will naturally repress and deny and must continually work to resolve. In each case Saturn tirelessly works to assist us by providing focus and concentrating our attention on the concrete realities of the here and now. We will most likely have to endure and face it all alone, receiving little external assistance, or feel absolutely crushed by the weight of responsibility, duty and the pressure of past causation and its consequences, but if we have the light of astrology to guide us we can at least gain an insight where we would otherwise have none. Combined with the knowledge of Saturns zodiacal nature, the house position shows the form of the psyches blind spot, the face and form of our shadow, a rare and precious magical gift indeed from such a seemingly dreary planet. He asks only that we look upon it and act according to our own moral guidance. If we look long and hard enough, we will see that our fates, especially those things which we mistake for our cursed misfortune, are hidden there within layers of meaning and beneath mountains of self denial. Once identified, and once a conscious decision has been made to deal with it, the principle of Saturn reveals our destiny, strands of which are expressed by the aspects or angular relationships Saturn has to the rest of the solar system at the time and place we are born.
Fate can be viewed as the future external consequence of present character. Since Saturn represents the weaknesses or frailties in our character, the consequences of those characteristics can be extremely fatal to our future! Of course, fate is present at every level of our natal chart and through every planet, but Saturn is the key to those factors and issues which are of the greatest consequence or density. Saturn describes those things we simply cannot escape from, the gravity well that has drawn us back into material existence. From the Saturn sphere we perceive precisely the incarnation we need to increase the range and depth of our concrete understanding of the Divine and we act from there as the architect of our current reality and experience, the lord of our own destiny. Our fate is written in the stars, according to astrology, but this does not mean that we are thus freed from any responsibility towards it. On the contrary, our destiny operates as an expression of those aspects of free will we have trouble with, and by acting in the present moment to change those circumstances we can, our future fate is altered. To put it another way, as Franz Bardon states, we have two teachers, ourselves, and fate, and those lessons we cannot learn by ourselves will be handed to us by fate. There are certain more complex issues involved here, and areas where our fate is literally unavoidable, such as the timing of our conception, birth and death, the moments of passing to and from the mortal coil, and certain other significant life events such as the deaths of loved ones, but the circumstances of death are not fixed in this way, they are entirely a factor of our karma and the karma of those involved in the ending of our life. If there are scores of challenges coming from Saturn in our chart, it does not mean that we will inevitably live a short life and meet a grim end, it simply means that we have a lot of work to do, but that the rewards are greater.
The angular relationships or aspects Saturn makes to other bodies in the solar system show us those karmic complexes we are fated to deal with, the strands of unredeemed experience that have drawn us most powerfully back into the Malkuth sphere. They are bonded to us and our task is often to free our spirit and soul of the limiting conditions we have imposed upon them by literally living through the experience of the consequences. Thus, the aspects of Saturn show where we are each fated to restructure an area of the self, either consciously through continuous work, or unconsciously as the result of repetitive fatal attractions and encounters with resistance, obstacles, failures, losses and disappointments. The choosing of the path of initiation – of any kind – is a wise choice indeed, when understood in this light.
There are two general categories of aspect in astrology, which we will call dynamic and flowing. Dynamic aspects are significantly more difficult to handle than flowing ones, but they contain a greater potential energy. Flowing aspects sometimes atrophy through lack of stimulation or develop soft edges because we get used to certain comfort levels, to certain things just going our way without much effort. From a hermetic perspective, it is clear that the dynamic aspects require persistent conscious attention and transmutation, whereas the flowing aspects require continuous conscious exercising and development or utilisation.
Of the dynamic aspects, we include the square, the opposition, the inconjunct and most conjunctions. Of these, in general we can say that the oppositions of Saturn are most often projections of the shadow onto another person or through a relationship, the squares represent challenging tests and a need to release control over the planet Saturn is aspecting, the inconjuncts tend to cause things to break or brittle over, or pressure to mount and escape at awkward moments and in awkward ways, and the conjunctions of Saturn act to compress, inhibit and repress the planetary principle, to concentrate it and make it heavy. Thus, an opposition between the Sun and Saturn shows that we will encounter face to face relationships which project our own natural flaws and repressed identity and fear, a square between Mercury and Saturn will tend to lead to arguments and even despair as we run into some form of need to release certain structures of thought and ways of thinking, and a conjunction of Saturn with Venus will make it impossible for us to separate our fears from our feelings and our need to give and receive affection, manifesting as emotional inhibition and repression, so that the life experiences literally produce a concentration of Venus through containment.
The flowing aspects include the trine (a very saturnine aspect in itself), the sextile, and the occasional conjunction. The trine is the most constructive and naturally harmonious aspect since it bonds two planets which share an element, Fire, Air, Earth or Water, although in some cases different elements are involved in the exchange, and the trine is then less stable. Essentially, any trine of Saturn represents an ease that comes from experience, that is, it is the harvest of your previous hard work in some area. Any Saturn trine acts to regulate the principle of the planet he aspects, to slow its rhythm down but not too much, just enough for it to function at efficiency and without much effort. In other words, we have our grip on reality there. The sextiles of Saturn mimic this but add flexibility and originality in the form of input from a different but compatible part of the zodiac. Thus, sextiles of Saturn are creative and more dynamic than the trine, but contain slightly less cohesive harmony.
Each one of us is born with a number of aspects to our natal Saturn, aspects which we can use to connect and explore its individual meaning for us, except in the case of a rare few individuals who have an unaspected Saturn. That does not mean that they have no fate of course, or that there is less for them to learn, because this state of Saturn presents problems of its own. The individual will have no way or relating Saturn to any other part of their psyche, and thus has no easy route to access Saturn, no real consciousness of their limitations and, likely, very little understanding of reality; the life experiences are fated to be about connecting to Saturn the hard way – through time and effort.
When we are born, we tend to lack earthly experience and so any dynamic or challenging aspects of Saturn often manifest themselves early on as fate marks, experiences which mark the earliest foundations of our experience and thus carry on through the years into maturity, where we can begin to understand such things as loss, despair, grief and disappointment, and this understanding gives us the power to transform the dynamic aspect so that it is not so reckless or dangerous. For example, a young man with Saturn conjunct Moon may find that his primary maternal figure, his mother, is just not around when he is young. She may be dead, separated, or just elderly. He never gets the emotional nurturing such a figure might offer him, and so he grows up emotionally stunted, unable to extend his personality to others with a degree of warmth or softness. Later, as an adult, perhaps at his Saturn return (discussed shortly), he gets an opportunity to actually realise the root of his own personal alienation and inhibition, and after persistent delving within himself, provide himself with the nurture he needed, but naturally missed out on. Eventually, he emerges with a completely restructured perspective on the feminine, lunar energy.
The aspects of Saturn are especially fated because whenever the planet that is in contact with Saturn in the birth chart is activated by consequent movements of the heavens, Saturn will also be activated, in other words, Saturn is directly wired in to that planets function and principle, ‘til death do you part, and every time that planet, be it Mars or the Sun, is stimulated astrologically, Saturn will also be involved, regulating things, and ensuring that the overall design and plan for your life is seen to operate under the applicable universal laws, specifically those of cause and effect. The more aspects Saturn has in your chart, then, the greater his involvement in the fated events of your life. In dealing with these aspects of fate that Saturn presents us with, there are many different paths and many solutions, each of which is in itself contained within the individual and the birth chart, for we do not have any problem presented to us that we are incapable of resolving; yet it is worth noting that dealing with the issues of Saturn is not a matter of will, intellect or even of good intentions, it is a moral issue, a matter of conscientiousness. We must also accept that whatever we aspire to it will not happen in a day, or even a year, but in a lifetime, yes, in a lifetime, certainly, there is that chance, if we will continue to work at it.
We see ourselves as small and limited, but when we closed our eyes in stillness and reflection, we sense the vastness of our consciousness, going on and on seemingly without limit, we see that we are the centre of eternity. From here, we can truly understand that if we battle on with tireless determination our difficulties can be overcome, some answer will emerge from out of the Infinite and like a frog bathed in refreshing rain we will hop out of our troubles. Contact with Saturn can be sobering but it is also strengthening. The aspects are like extremely old habits, energy patterns we have clung to and which define us, energetics which give our life form, just as fate, the inevitable consequence of our choices, does. But both form and fate require a further factor to develop them and give them reality before they become meaningful human experiences.
Saturn is the Record Keeper. It contains and organises the record of all our previous soul experiences, condensed into a single lifetime, the one we currently experience. It regulates when and how certain things happen and it observes that we cleave to certain hardcore realities. The Saturn sphere is the last of the spheres to directly influence the earth zone of Malkuth; the spheres of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto cast their direct cosmic influences only as far as the Moon sphere, which is not to say that these planets do not influence us on Earth, only that they do so in a more abstract way through the interaction of the Moon sphere with Malkuth (each sphere contains the whole Tree of Life, All is One). In the Saturn sphere the life and existence of every created thing is measured out and we are thus allotted only a finite, limited period of time to do what we must do in the earth zone, which is to say, we each have just enough time, a lifetime, to accomplish what we must. This may be difficult for some to accept, for example, it is not easy to understand how the lifetime of a brutally murdered child is enough, but in truth, this is the reality we live with, and as varied and mystifying as it is to our human understanding, it all serves a greater plan, which never fails, but emerges for all eternity, infinitely Infinite, according each thing with the experiences it needs to evolve to greater and greater perfection. Even those Intelligences which we might, from our human perspective, call evil-doers, the Saturn and Mars contra-intelligences and those of Saturn who punish and inflict illness, loss and poverty, even these beings carry out the Divine plan, simply by offering humanity a choice whereby it can come to its own understanding of the problem of good and evil.
Saturn is the record keeper for us in the sense that he keeps account of the past actions and choices we have made, and he keeps a score. When the correct time comes, he brings up the scoreboard, along with a status report, and we get a reality check. Thus, we may think that we have escaped the consequences of selfish or mean behaviour, but we have been observed, and we will face the consequences in due time. Of this, we should make no mistake. Likewise, any work we have done will be rewarded by Saturn, also in due time.
In fact, you can almost set your life clock by Saturn, he’s so regular and tight with time. Since he makes an annual cycle of the Sun an average of every 29.5 yrs, we are all on a trip that comes sharply into focus every 7 yrs or so, since every 7 yrs, he will have traversed a quarter of the way around the zodiac, and activate his own position by dynamic aspect. Any karmic consequences come due at these times, as well as when he reaches any other sensitive point of the zodiac for each individual. In this way, even those with no Saturn aspects get to experience every possible kind of contact with him they can in some variety of form at least once every 29.5 years. When Saturn has made his first circuit of the zodiac, having formed every possible aspect he can with each and every other natal planet, has visited each of the 12 temples, and our palette of experience is complete, for the first time, and we can at last understand and see the pattern of our major life lessons for what they are, and know what we have to work with. This reality changes us, as any contact with Saturn will, by maturing us, we suddenly feel older, often wiser, even if we have failed to achieve our ambitions. Where our reality has been somewhat wonky, that is, where we have been unrealistic, Saturn will have instructed us in no way we can mistake. Where is has been too rigid, cracks or worse will have appeared to show us what must be taken care of or relaxed.
Because, in the first 29 years of life, we do not know what to expect, we often botch these early transits of Saturn, and the Saturn return, when it all comes home to roost, can then be an extremely sobering moment, but at times, especially if, regardless of success or failure, we have worked hard at each and every step of the way, the Saturn return rewards us with a huge step up, and we progress to the next level of the game. Our understanding has increased, we have more experience, and we are more secure.
This means that as far as Saturn is concerned, with time all things get better and improve with age, and the subsequent cycle leading ultimately to the second Saturn return is usually most rewarding for many people, traditionally marking the third cycle with the beginning of retirement and rest, a Saturn phase of life in itself. We get more adept at handling his energy as we get older, and saturnine types (those born with a strong emphasis on Saturn are those with Capricorn Sun or as rising sign, Aquarius Sun or rising sign, or Saturn prominent by position in the chart) can actually appear to grow physically more youthful and fresh as they mature, while when young they resemble little old men and ladies. Certainly, we tend to experience the most negative manifestations of Saturn when we are young and immature and more vulnerable to disappointment and harsh realities, and reap the benefits of our hard work only after many years – perhaps an entire lifetime – of such toil and persistent labour, but no effort ever goes unrewarded. Given enough time, all things are possible.
Interestingly, it is an observable fact that the cells of the body are all completely replaced across a span of 7 years, excepting parts of the brain. In other words, what was there 7 years ago has been copied since then. This fact shows us that if we wish to physically restructure the physical body, we require a natural cycle of 7 years to full do so.
In terms of increments of time, then, one analogy for our solar system, and astrology, is that the Moon is the minute hand on the clock of destiny, the Sun is the hour hand, and Saturn is the current chronological date. He marks off the days, weeks and the months with a tireless but slow creep that is all but unnoticeable until we look back and count that numerous years have passed. Time indeed flows like water and never returns, and Saturn is that hourglass, never ceasing to leak out the sand. When that sand runs out, your time is up, and you do get to turn the hourglass over again if you need to, but it never falls in exactly the same way ever again. This is part of the inner wisdom of Saturn, and of Capricorn, the wisdom of persistence and patience, but also of acting upon immediate reality to accomplish an ambitious goal in increments.
To the alchemist, this goal is the transmutation of the base material, say lead, into the perfected state, gold. It requires great patience and many processes to remove the impurities and imperfections, to recombine and remould the perfected forms and essences, and to finally emerge with the gold, but in the end it is not the production of the gold that truly matters or means anything, it is the understanding gathered and the methods used to garner that understanding which are important – the effect upon the alchemist. Yes, certain practitioners of alchemy were aware of quantum physics centuries ago, as the causal inter-relationship between consciousness and space-time. The array of processes the alchemist had to subject the base materia to were inevitably utterly catastrophic for the original form, and the tests of Saturn upon the human soul similarly may seem to be calamitous at times, but if we are willing to look upon our own darkness and not despair, the gold will eventually shine its own way through, and we will see that the journey and not the success or failure of that journey truly matter. Hence, the long way, the slow, ponderous, steady way is the progression of Saturn, the “don’t be hasty” attitude he demands of each and every one of us in a different way. When we come to a choice or a test supplied by Saturn there is no truly right or wrong answer, only a bad attitude. Given the choice between trying to save the life of one person or another, there is no absolute right or wrong involved, and no judgement will be handed down later for such, because it is not the act itself which is subject to the final judgement of the Greater Self, but the motivation, that which dwells within the heart at the time of each deed or choice. That is all that truly matters.
We stand before the Titan Gate again, its arch of stone stretching from infinity to infinity on either side of us. We have no words for what we have experienced beyond it in timeless eternity; we must simply allow it to be, in the end, what it is. We look now and see that the scope of the arch continues even below us, it is a circle, an infinite shape with no beginning and no end, and that it is composed of all the individual souls we have been or will ever be.
We are spread out over eternity, truly without limit.
Naturally, we choose a point of interest to investigate.
There is a great deal more to Saturn than this. I have only been able to show you a tiny part of his principle with this essay and I feel I am acutely aware of some its faults and frailties. I hope, however, that it contributes to your understanding. In many ways, publishing this article now is a truly synchronous event for me on a personal as well as a human level. Today, the Huygens probe lands on Saturn’s mammoth moon, Titan, after a 7 year voyage across 22 billion miles of space, and this is a truly saturnine occurrence in all our lives, but it also reflects and encapsulates for me, finally, the conclusion of a long and very taxing journey my soul has taken over the last months, and years. I am filled with an enormous sense of relief, excitement and satisfaction that I have persevered through many adversities and feel extremely grateful that I have been given the chance to experience things as I have.
Life may challenge us with many difficulties and mortality may limit us in severe fashion, but we are each given the resources we need to face and overcome all these difficulties and even to help others to do so as well. The message of Saturn is not gloomy – it is that we are eternal beings, Divine beings, in fact, that we have denied and shut off this ultimate reality from our conscious awareness, that we have constructed a lead palace called the ego and enshrined a paper god there, and it is Saturn’s master task to tear it all down and reveal the true Realm we really inhabit.
Jan 14 2005, Berlin , 17:46.
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What an awe-inspiring post! Saturn is a very prominent planet in my chart and I have found a wealth of meaning in your writing.The most challenging is a very tight square that my Saturn in Cancer forms with Jupiter in Aries in the 9th house. It is hard to carve your own place in society, especially one that would incorporate the Jupiterian visions of mine…
Also, your book 26 Keys has just arrived by post and I am going to embark on a spiritually enriching journey with it.
Thank you, you are welcome 🙂 Saturn is very prominent for me too – Capricorn rising and he is sitting on the 4th cusp in Taurus, opposing everything else in Scorpio. So he’s my anchor. Without him I’d probably float away 🙂 Times have been extremely hard lately as you an probably tell just from this information (isnt astrology amazing?). My mother died very painfully and i was left practically alone taking care of her while the NHS collapses, and etc. So he and I feel pretty tight right now and we are deepening our understanding of one another.
Thanks heaps for picking up my book, I hope your journeys with her will be fruitful, Anytime you want to talk about it join up the facebook page if you are there.
Happy journeys 🙂
I am fond of this analogy: Saturn as an anchor. I have now joined the fb page and will ask questions if they arise.
I am deeply sorry for your loss.
Thank you, I admire your writing and willingness to integrate so much- I especially like the astronomical science you bring in, since I don’t see that as much in astrology. I was just looking at Saturn in relation to 7 year cycles in my life, so it is great to see you write about this, and bring in the significance of 7. I also like how you brought in alchemy and love this line: “The array of processes the alchemist had to subject the base materia to were inevitably utterly catastrophic for the original form, and the tests of Saturn upon the human soul similarly may seem to be calamitous at times, but if we are willing to look upon our own darkness and not despair, the gold will eventually shine its own way through, and we will see that the journey and not the success or failure of that journey truly matter.”
with gratitude, Gray
Gray – thank you for this feedback and your appreciation of the astronomy, which is something i think we really need to retain at some level, especially with the new paradigm emerging with the dwarf planets and asteroids. But more than that it is part of the magic of these planets, as their physical characteristics express their essential meaning quite beautifully.
I like the analogy too, it describes my relationship with him well. Thank you for your kind sympathy.
This is such a brilliant post.
A question if I may. Saturn is at 29 degrees 57 minutes Taurus in my horoscope, and in the 11th house. (20-24 Taurus to 20-19 Gemini)
Reading your descriptions about the expressions about the Saturn principles in the signs, the description for Gemini resonates more than the one for Taurus. Do you think Saturn’s influence could be “spilling over” into Gemini somehow?
I am fairly sure my birthtime is correct- Hindu families put great store by Vedic astrology and scrupulously note birth times.
Thank you! No, signs are not really operative in that way, in my experience they have clearer boundaries. Remember that signs are in an objective sense locked into the seasons and seasonal variations. The solstices and equinoxes are definite and clear moments in time. Astrology can be very complex, so the qualities you see in your experience as Saturn in Gemini qualities are stemming from elsehwree. Its time to put the deerstalker on and get detecting!
Ok thanks! Putting on the deerstalker now, and beginning to map 7 year Saturn cycles and life lessons learned.
Between these articles and “The 26 keys” (which is *the* best book on astrology I ever read) you are a veritable cornucopia of *actionable* astrological knowledge.
Thank You and God Bless,
You say “Generally, he is tending to be less malefic when occidental (rising after the Sun) ”
Later in the article you say
“his power is weakest when he is at Aries 21 deg, rising after the Sun” (hence implying that Saturn in fall is less malefic than an exalted Saturn) “in the daytime” (implying that a ‘warm’ Saturn is better)
So the principle seems to be that when Saturn is occidental, he is weaker and so less malefic. So I wonder if Saturn is weakened in other ways, by also being in a cadent house, say, that reduces his malefic nature further (as compared to being conjunct one of the angles) ? If he is in the 12th, his house of joy, would that make him more or less malefic ?
Interesting article, there is a whole school of occult practice in it, if read between the lines.
In my view, the cadent houses are the places where the balance between the persons ability to transform the planets expression and the power of the planet to transform the person is weighed towards the individual being able to transform the planet. Angular houses are the opposite, the power of the planet to transform us is upperhand. I think it is very very important for modern astrologers to evolve a language that is more specific than ‘weak’ and ‘strong’. There are all kinds of different ways to consider power and what it is. I maintain that essential dignity (where houses are accidental dignity) is about how conventional a planets expression is, and thus how comfortable it is made by societal norms – a different kind of power entirely. And so a more complex picture of a planets qualities emerges when we ditch this ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ thinking, which is largely based on materialistic and not spiritual values, and instead evaluate the conditions affecting a planet in this more specific and complex way. Its not a sum, like 1+3-2=2, which is how astrology measures things, its a complex combination of different forms of strength and weakness, and just as in a human being ones greatest strength can invariably be ones greatest weakness, and vice versa.
” the cadent houses are the places where the balance between the persons ability to transform the planets expression and the power of the planet to transform the person is weighed towards the individual being able to transform the planet.”
Very interesting then that both the “malefics” (as per conventional astrology) have their joys in cadent houses (6th for Mars and 12th for Saturn)
The 6th temple Mars is often a person who is busy with their daily schedule and likes to keep fit and healthy. They take control of their Mars and try to perfect the skill of wielding it.
The 12th temple Saturn isolates us so that we have no choice but to look within at what we fear and take control of our Saturn issues.
Once you wrote: “cadent temples are temples of lear ing where we do not have as much power to act on the events the planet will produce because we are meant to learn something from them”.
Then it is like we do not have the power to act initially but have a greater potencial to transform its manifestations?
In the 3rd, we have to read, write and/or listen, before we can act. School is one place that happens, for example.
In the 6th, we have to train or practice, before we can act. Work we do is one example.
In the 9th, we have to expand our horizons to embrace exotic or advanced concepts and seek their meaning, before we can act. University is one example.
In the 12th, we have to be alone to look within before we can act. Hospitalisation is one example of this.
There is initial power but it is to learn something. The power to act on it comes after.
Once we have learned what it is we are to learn, our ability to shape our experience in cadent houses is powerful. But also look at it this way – you can choose what to study, to train in, to introspect upon. So if you have for example Mars in the 6th, you might choose to train as a surgeon (knives, cutting, helping others) or you might choose to train as a fitness trainer, or some other Mars/6th skill may be learned. However, you are fated to need to learn something connected with Mars which you will use every day.
And very interesting as well that both the “Benefics” have their Joys in Succeedent Temples that are opposing each other (5th for Venus and 11th for Jupiter).
Yes, one for the more earthly and material side of life, below the horizon (1-6 houses) and one for the more intangible and spiritual, above the horizone (7-12).
“If you know the position of Saturn in your chart, you have a clear indication of where your path to real and lasting equilibration lies.” This is the most insightful thing I ever read about Saturn
yes, Saturn is an astrolological key to a great deal of magic.
that (your comments to Gabriel) is a very sophisticated philosophical doctrine of cadent houses. I’ve never seen anything like it.
So with cadent house planets, one simultaneously has the ability to transform the planetary influence, but also the need to learn in some fashion, (great examples of each house!) and so there is a kind of pause to learn and observe and formulate a plan of action before such shaping of the planetary influence can take place,.
I’m assuming with cardinal house planets, the sequence is inverted? The planet (who has more relative power) drives the native (unconsciously?) into events and situations, and the learning and reacting happens after the planet is done, with the reacting mode depending on the house?
And the succedent houses would be something in between?
As I said above, I’ve never heard (or read) anything like this, not in the traditional canon anyway, where planets in the cardinal houses are (essentially) loud, and those in the cadent houses are muted.
I’m (very) impressed.
Thank you for your kind comments 🙂 You have understood my meaning correctly. When you dwell deeper upon this, it becomes a little clearer why different houses systems work. There is no clear and clean way to define where one of these relationships begin and another ends. To paraphrase Steven Forrest on a relalated topic it’s like asking when your kitten becomes a cat. There is a clear disctinction, but where does that transition exist? We can measure that in any way that works, since it is a more subjective (personal) thing. Like the experience in the houses.
As far as I am aware, nobody else is making statements about this. It comes from my personal experience and my work with other peoples charts and their experiences. I would *love* to hear of anyone else making similar statements!