This is a part of a longer project that I’m working on to dig into Saturn. It may turn into an essay, a lecture.. Who knows!

Anyway, here are some really cool images and representations of Saturn and its archetype.

First–yes, Saturn does look like this. Notice the sharp definition… It almost looks photoshopped!

The Planet Saturn, from the Cassini Mission

In classical mythology, Saturn was a deity of the harvest. This provides an easy link to an understanding of him as a god of time. Later, he also came to rule over Saturnalia, the turning of the year at the Winter Solstice.

Francisco Goya, Saturn Devouring His Son

Saturn is the Romanized version of the Greek Titan Chronos. As he feared being overtaken by his children, he ate each one of him. Here, we can consider the conservatism of Saturn, the fearfulness of leaving the past, and a constriction in relationship to future change..

Saturn Cutting off Cupid’s Wings with a Scythe, by Ivan Akimov. Saturn ever gotten in the way of your love life?

This fearsome, nearly insane aspect of Saturn is highlighted in the Gnostic concept of the Demiurge–a fake creator God that is sort of behind this whole world. Think of it like the Matrix–there was a cosmic fuckup, and somehow we landed up here, enslaved by an inept ruler.

An image of Abraxas, one of the names of the Demiurge. This is from ‘The Infernal Dictionary.’

This leads us to an understanding of Saturn as representing the sort of rigid, backwards parts of ourselves. In Alchemy, Saturn corresponded to the element of Lead, which represented the base matter that eventually gets transformed into gold.

An interesting image.. Saturn is the old man in the bath, being heated up, reuniting with his spirit (the dove).
Get it, Henry.

Jung famously rejected the Gnostic view of Saturn/Matter in favor of this Alchemical perspective, embracing the idea that Matter can be seen as the dwelling place of Spirit. This notion can be found in the Qabalistic Tree of Life, where the bottom Sepherot/sphere of Malkuth is thought to be the Kingdom of God incarnate. This map of the universe is found in the Tarot, which attributes the Universe card (weaving Malkuth with Yesod) to Saturn. With the right perspective, the material world reveals the mysteries of the universe.

The two cards associated with Saturn in the Tarot–The Devil (Capricorn, ruled by Saturn) and The Universe, from the Thoth deck.

From this perspective, The Devil doesn’t look too scary, huh? There’s an interesting way where Saturn might weave even more into the mythology of the Devil. Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn, the Sea Goat. Associated with Goats of all kinds, he’s both the Scape Goat and the frisky Satyr. Saturn, Satyr, Satan.. Is there an etymological connection? Either way, many Christian appraisals of Satan feel similar to the Gnostic appreciation of the Demiurge. They’re both oppositional, evil forces, potentially holding us all in their grasps. We’ve already seen how there can be other understandings of this energy, though–matter and the wild instincts can be transmuted, or otherwise revealed to be spirit itself.

In Vedic Astrology, Saturn is worshipped as Lord Shani.

This image of Lord Shani weaves into the pagan lore interestingly. Shani’s blue skin and the peacock he’s riding on both stick out here.. Some Pagan explorers, seeking to find a firsthand relationship to the Wild One before our confused understanding of the Earth’s theology and our archetypal mythology, have encountered a figure that is blue skinned, and the peacock is associated with Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel of the Yazidi people that some Abrahamic traditions have worried is the Devil.

All of this speaks to a somewhat different understanding of the traditional archetypal estimation of Saturn found within most schools of astrology. It seems to me that one way of looking at these varied interpretations might be understood as a sort of developmental transition, or even an archetypal transformation taking place in these crazy times. Either way, I think the experience itself of Saturn at it’s peak–deep inwardness and mastery–might feel a lot like being close to the Horned One, the wild deity in the depths of nature. Within the world, the sense of self-possession and sharp definition takes us back to Saturn in it’s bare, astronomical image.

What do you think? Let me know about your experience of Saturn!

Faces of Saturn

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