The Gift of Saturn

The Gift of Saturn

And when we fell together 
All our flesh was like a veil
That I had to draw aside to see
The serpent eat its tail
-Leonard Cohen, Last Year’s Man

 With the creation of these talisman rings it was of utmost importance that I give Saturn their due. This meant that while the rings were made strictly to astrological timing, this project would only be finished in Saturn’s time. 

I began this project thinking Saturn’s gifts could be cultivated primarily through hard work and discipline. As an artist I know that the most beautiful works of art are often born out of suffering and struggle. And while it is true that Saturn rewards those who are prepared to work hard, it was through this endeavour that I began to realize there is so much more to this planet. A deep dive into mythology and archetypal literature followed. Much time was spent in writing and contemplation as I was compelled to deconstruct Saturnian qualities on a fundamental and psychological level. Ultimately I discovered how Saturn can act as a catalyst for psychic transformation, leading to greater consciousness and fulfilment. 

Foundations, structures, solidity, and incarnation; the physical realm of hard, material reality; commitment, responsibility, hard work; the guardian of the threshold; maturity and wisdom: Saturn’s many diamond-hard facets are expressed in the life of every individual, in challenges faced and overcome, in obstacles that defeat us but which we try, yet again, to master. Saturn structures the rites of passage and initiations of life: at the precise time of birth Saturn fixes the natal chart and it stands at the threshold of death. [1]

From birth to death we are within Saturn’s realm of time and matter and with Saturn being commonly known as a malefic planet many are lead to think primarily of their negative influences. Yet to paraphrase Robert Hand, given the wrong conditions each planet can be malefic, and in the right conditions each planet can also be benefic. [2] I completed these talismans during the carefully selected election of 10:20am 10 March 2021 AEDT. Chosen in consultation with Astrologer Ryhan Butler of Medieval Astrology Guide. The Moon was making a close conjunction to Saturn in Aquarius in the 10th house applying to the midheaven, with Saturn and the Moon both free from hard aspects. Ensouling these talismans with Saturn in a favourable position ensures that Saturn will look upon the wearer with good fortune in matters they have dominion over. This is explicitly expressed in the Picatrix;  

You should see that the planet [Saturn] is in good condition and quality, and remote from infortunes, because when he is like this, he is like a man of good will and a lively heart and a great and ample mind, and if another person seeks something from him, he cannot find it in himself to deny the petitioner. [3]

According to the Picatrix, Saturn has dominion over the following: farmers, streams, those who work in the earth, controversies, great and long journeys, great and enduring enmities, bringing evils, battles and all things unwanted, and the power to make and work. True speech, hope, blackness, age, buildings, fear, great thoughts, cares, angers, betrayals, sorrows, anguish, death, inheritances, orphans, old places, appraisals, proper elocution, secret sciences, secret meanings, and profound knowledge. [4] 

On a metaphysical level Saturn rules over esoteric knowledge and transformation. As the first planet in the Chaldean order and the furthest from us, Saturn stands at the threshold of all that is bound to time and cycles; our intermediary for that which is fixed and lies beyond the realm of cycles and duality. It is Saturn who brings the nature of duality to our attention and it is deep within Saturn’s ancient symbols, archetypes, images, and mythologies we find themes of redemption and wisdom in which Saturn’s restrictive qualities provide a catalyst for growth and a crystallization of purpose. 

In his essay On Sennex Consciousness Hillman details how within the binary system of Christianity, the Saturnian archetype is present in both the creator god and the devil. “What the Greek’s called Kronos, and the Romans Saturn, our western tradition has worshiped as Our Father Who Art in Heaven.” [5]

As the all-father Saturn represents the sennex consciousness;  the archetype of the wise-old-man. Within his domain is structure, ideals, order, control and hierarchy. At his extreme he is the devouring father and when this face emerges the scales must be balanced - queue the devil; the antithesis of tyranny. Just as Saturn is exalted in Libra so does “the balance of opposites belong to Saturn… [As] we shall never encounter the good wise old man without recognizing him as an ogre at the same time, nor come upon one destructive trait that cannot be saved into virtue by turning it upside down.” [6]

We enter the world of Saturian restriction and boundary from the moment of birth as we are thrust out of the womb into a cognizance of bodily separation. In her essay Re-visioning Saturn Garfield-Kabbara locates the Saturnian archetype in the static feminine, which “relates to the mother’s womb, gestation in the dark, and cyclical rhythms of nature seen in the seasons and impersonal acts of destruction and creation.” [5] 

Like all things Saturnian, the birthing process is painful (for both mother and child), the very first boundary we face on birth is inhabiting a body separate from the mother. The very act of being alive in the body Saturnian, without the body we would be boundless free floating throughout space and time unable to impact upon the world. In this way Saturnian boundary and limitation can be considered as a gift. Yet at the hands of man Saturn’s gifts are so often turned into curses.

An ideology popularised through Christianity is the curse of the flesh, in which the gift of embodiment becomes our earthly prison that we must endure until we are set free to float around in heaven. This ideology pervades in our technocratic age in which we long to shrug off our bodies for virtual avatars and exist in the digital. Yet I would argue it is not the body but rather “the internet, and the vaunted internet of things... [that is the] prison being built around us.” [6] This point is made by Grey & Dimech in The Brazen Vessel for which they offer a solution; a way back to the body via Saturn’s other face; the devil.

The devil is the shadow; the inversion of the all-father, wild, embodied and of the earth. According to Greene,“there are various myths and motifs which are connected to the symbol of Saturn, from Pan through to Satan and Lucifer, from the serpent in the garden to the hermit of the tarot deck.” [7] It is within these devil archetypes that we can find our way back to the body, to nature, and into embodied practices. Yet ultimately if we don’t create a balance with sennex consciousness then we run the risk of carnal excess in the pursuit of pleasure. If we examine Saturn’s malefic qualities of: restriction, isolation and melancholy within a contemporary cultural context, we see experiential states that are rejected in lieu of the opposite: boundless freedom, connectivity and happiness. There is a societal coercion away from the former and into the later, as we are encouraged to maintain connectivity through social media, melancholic states are pathologized, and  happiness is marketed. This pursuit of pleasure through the rejection of the shadow reduces pleasure to simulacra, which can only ever bring momentary satisfaction before propelling us into a continual state of yearning.

If we can learn to integrate the mythology, which places the godhead and the devil as an inversion of each other, as two sides to one coin, perhaps we can learn to overcome the attachment to duality that pervades within our psyches. Just as the serpent offers Eve knowledge, Saturn invites us to part the curtains and to peer behind the veil. Where we can more clearly see the theatre, and Saturn playing both parts, the hero and the villain. 

In the ancient Jyotish myth, The Greatness of Saturn, King Vikrama endures seven and a half years of misery and torment at the hands of Saturn. Initially in a state of terror he fights against his fate, but with time he learns acceptance. When Vikrama, no longer a king but instead a lame ox herder, comes to the realization there are still things in life to be grateful for and starts to sing to pass the time. “He sang his heart out until, all of a sudden, the potency of the melody combined with the force of his singing to cause all the lamps in the city to spontaneously ignite.” [9] The beauty of his song attracted the attention of the princess who thought him a celestial musician and invited him to sing for her in her palace, where he spent the remainder of the seven and a half years in comfort. At the end of the seven and a half year period Saturn returns to Vikrama and asks the lame king what he desires. Vikrama in turn asks that no one else experience the suffering that he endured. Saturn’s reply provides a great insight into his nature;

“I am very pleased with this sort of benevolent attitude. I am in truth so pleased that I give you this boon: You could have asked for your hands and feet to be returned to you, but you feel the pain of others in your heart, and, renouncing your own selfishness, you asked for a boon for everyone else. You are verily a remover of others’ troubles, for you want to save all beings from suffering. I am very pleased with this sort of benevolent attitude. I am in truth so pleased that I give you this boon: May your hands and feet be again as they were before, and may you regain your previous luster!” [10]

The Greatness of Saturn teaches us that hardship is the catalyst for growth; the lessons are hard so that we can learn to be better humans to each other and ourselves. At first Vikrama fights against his fate, but when he comes to accept it he is able to detach from his suffering, he experiences a transformation within the psyche and finds a sense of peace.

Just as Saturn continues to transit, life will present us with hardship. When we are able to accept this sobering fact choices open up for us. In identifying Saturn within the archetypes of god and devil we are given the opportunity to move beyond duality. Once we recognize duality as two sides of the same coin we can endeavour to restore balance rather than reject one side in favour of the other. And while the greater, external world can often feel so out of our control, we do have control over how we choose to act within it.

If we were to cultivate balance within ourselves, to tend to our inner worlds like gardens, we can fill them with beauty just as Vikrama learns to overcome his suffering and bring beauty to the world through song. In doing this we become less reactive and more resilient. We develop a Saturnian detachment that calms our emotional waters so that we can loosen our attachment to outcomes and become more present in the moment.

This is the true gift of Saturn.

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The Saturn talisman rings were hand carved from jewellers wax and cast in sterling silver. They were oxidised in liver-of-sulphur and each set with a 1ct natural black Australian sapphire during the elected time of 10:20am, 10 March, 2021 AEDT. Cypress harvested on Saturn’s day and hour was encapsulated under each stone in resin. Engraved on either side of each ring is Saturn’s figure from the Picatrix (as found in the Lapidary of Hermes and in the book of Beylus and in the Book of Spirits and Images) and Saturn’s glyph below. A suffumigation of Cypress, tobacco and frankincense was used. Picatrix prayers were used to invoke Saturn and inspirit the talismans. 

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There are 7 Saturn talisman rings available, they will be released at 7am Saturday 17th April 2021, AEST. 

  

 

 

 REFERENCE

1. Tarnas, B. & Maxwell, G. (2016). Saturn and the Theoretical Foundations of an Emerging Discipline. Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology, Issue 5. Kindle Edition, loc. 168.

2. Hand, Robert - Jupiter as a Malefic. (2020, December 14). [Video]. NORWAC. https://norwac.net/downloads/hand-robert-jupiter-as-amalefic/

3 & 4. Warnock, C. & Greer, J. M. (2012). Picatrix Liber Atratus: Books 3 and 4 (Complete Picatrix Liber Atratus Edition Book 2). Renaissance Astrology, p 54, p. 44.

5. Hillman, J. (2016). On Senex Consciousness. Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology, 5, loc 241, loc. 285.

6. Grey, P. & Dimech, A. (2019). The Brazen Vessel. Scarlet Imprint | Bibliothèque Rouge, loc. 1766

7. Garfield-Kabbara, J. (2016). Re-Visioning Saturn. Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology, Issue 5, p. 33.

8. Greene, L. & Hand, R. (2011). Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil (Reprint ed.). Weiser Books, p. 35, p. 10.

9 & 10. Svoboda, R. (1997). The Greatness of Saturn: A Therapeutic Myth (2nd Revised ed.). Lotus Press, p. 81. 11. Warnock, C. & Greer, J. M. (2012). Picatrix Liber Atratus: Books 3 and 4 (Complete Picatrix Liber Atratus Edition Book 2). Renaissance Astrology, pp. 54-55.

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