Saturn, the last of the ancient planets, is perhaps the most maligned astrological force at play in our life. The medieval astrologers called it the Greater Malefic. It was known as the planet of death because during the dark ages, the life span of the average person was around 30, close to the twenty-nine and a half year cycle of Saturn moving through the twelve zodiac signs. In actuality, Saturn is the planet of karma, limitations and discipline, now associated with the Saturn return, an approximate thirty year cycle in our life that often forces us to confront our past lessons and gain their wisdom before entering a new cycle. Ever notice how people seem to go a bit crazy around thirty? Culturally we think its about entering a new age bracket, but it has a lot to do with astrology. For those who are aware, it can be a great period of learning and growth. For those who struggle and rage against it, and even those who don’t, it can be a period of trials and frustration. In the astrological cycle, one is not fully an adult until the end of the first Saturn cycle.
The planet is the last of the inner planets, the last traditionally visible planet known to the ancient astrologers. The remaining planets are the modern, outer planets. So Saturn represents the limit, the end of the known realm and the last thing we can see clearly. The rings of Saturn are beautiful, perfectly ordered chunks of ice and rock. Saturn’s gravity maintains the discipline and perfection of the rings. Rings too, represent limits, bindings and boundaries. Initially the ice and ice covered rocks were without order, and Saturn came in during the formation of the solar system to bring order to the chaos of this debris. That is the power and function of Saturn, to bring structure, order and limits.
Like Jupiter, Saturn has an intricate Moon system, with ten Moons in all. It’s largest Moon, Titan, is the size of Mercury. As Jupiter is second only to the Sun in gravitational power, Saturn is second only to Jupiter, making it a “heavy weight” in terms of spiritual power. Like Jupiter, Saturn is a spiritual teacher. Jupiter is expansion to Saturn’s power of contractions. They are the first of the spiritual planets, or the upper octaves of the personal planets. Saturn is considered the upper octave of the Moon, both tied together through the concept of karma. The symbol of Saturn is a cross on top of a crescent Moon.
Spiritually, Saturn is associated with both the root chakra and the crown. As the ruler of the root, Saturn relates the earth element, the physical world and all the trials and limitations that come with being in the world. As the ruler of the crown, Saturn represents the resolution of karma, and the move into higher consciousness. Saturn is the teacher, but unlike Jupiter, it is a taskmaster teacher. My teacher, Jan Brink of Unicorn Books in Arlington Massachusetts describes Saturn in such a wonderfully helpful way. Saturn is like the small still voice within. When you listen to it, everything is fine. When you don’t, Saturn manifests whatever you are ignoring in your life, usually as a challenge that you are forced to face. The metal of Saturn is traditionally lead, because it represents the weight of the responsibilities we carry.
Magically, Saturn is the power of manifestation. It brings things into form, both our karma and our intentions, if they match our spiritual path. Saturn is the master of discipline, named after the Roman version of the Greek Chronos, the Titan associated with the harvest and reaping both rewards and consequences. Saturn is often like our Father Time and Grim Reaper archetype mixed into one. In the Kabalah, Saturn is associated with the sephiroth of Binah, and linked to the divine feminine, cosmic goddess and destroyer. Saturn is the power of the primal and ancient ones in any culture – the first gods, the Ancient Father and Mother.
The sign of Saturn is the earth sign Capricorn, the mountain goat, and because the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn at the Winter Solstice, a time traditionally associated with the birth of the divine child in many cultures, Saturn is also linked with the divine child of life and rebirth. Saturn has many divine faces. It matters not which one we listen to, as long as we listen to that small voice of guidance before it becomes the landslide.
Saturn can be called upon for magic involving protection, since it binds and limits. Use it to bind and limit any harmful energy directed to you. It is not the power of the warrior’s protection, such as Mars. It is the power to simply neutralize, inhibit and banish harm. If harmful energy is like a bullet, Mars protection dodges, deflects and counterattacks. Saturn simply robs the bullet of momentum, grounding it.
Saturn can be called upon in ritual to make your karmic “lessons” more clear to you, to understand the repercussions of your actions. Saturn rituals are great for understanding what is occurring in your life, and why. The sephiroth of Binah translates to understanding. Call on Saturn to understand your current challenges.
Use this planet’s energy when you have chaos in your life, to bring order and structure. Use it to gain discipline to complete a goal or maintain a program. I’ve used Saturn’s energy to keep on exercise and diet routines, when needing discipline. The power of Saturn is well known in the eastern yogic and martial art traditions.
Saturn can be used in any spell requiring a manifestation on the physical plane, in particular this energy resonates with some prosperity magic, if you have earned the boon through hard work and responsibility, and for magic involving getting promotions, climbing a social or corporate structure, using authority and wielding power. Keep in mind Saturn also reminds us of the repercussions of all our actions, so in keeping with the Wiccan Rede and other magical axioms, “do what you will and let it harm none.” Saturn will teach you responsibility if you do not use its powers responsibly.
•METALS: Lead, Pewter, Zinc
•MINERALS: Apache Tear, Bone, Calcium, Coal, Coral –Black, Diamond, Garnet, Hematite, Howlite, Jasper –Brown, Jet, Obsidian, Onyx, Quartz –Black, Salt, Serpentine, Tiger’s Eye – Blue, Tourmaline -Black
•PLANTS: Aconite, Amaranthus, Barley, Beech, Beets, Boneset, Burdock Root, Cactus, Carnation, Clematis, Comfrey, Cornflower, Cramp Bark, Cypress, Datura, Dog Grass, Elm, Fern, Fleawort, Garlic, Heart’s Ease, Hellebore, Hemlock, Hemp, Horsetail, Irish Moss, Ivy, Knotweed, Laurel, Lobelia, Low John Root, Mandrake, Mastic, Morning Glory, Moss, Mullein, Myrrh, Nightshade, Onion, Orris Root, Pansy, Patchouly, Pine, Poke Root, Poplar, Potato, Quince, Rue, Scullcap, Shepherd’s Purse, Snakeweed, Solomon’s Seal, St. Joan’s Wort, Tamarind, Tobacco, Tonka Bean, Walnut, Witch Grass, Witch Hazel, Yew
In particular with Saturn herbs, I highly recommend checking a good medical herbal book before ingesting any. Learn which herbs are poisonous, since one of the magical signatures of Saturn is toxicity. Saturn was known as the planet of death once, so unless you literally want to learn that lesson, don’t ingest any.
The best day to do Saturn rituals is Saturday, which is, of course, Saturn’s day in the magical days of the week. Only fitting that the traditional last day of the week is the day of Saturn. Typically Saturn is a night of fun and partying for many in the western world, before the day of worship on Sunday. This night is reminiscent of the Saturnalia, the Roman festival at the Winter Solstice, in honor of Saturn. As a festival of merriment, things are turned upside down, and slaves were often waited upon by masters. Normal societal rules were reversed.
The yearly Saturn period, at least for those in the Northern Hemisphere is the last 52 days of the Zodiac year, from January 27 to approximately March 21. This timing gives us again the image of Saturn as old man winter. Your personal Saturn period is the 52 days before your birthday, signifying an end to one year, one cycle, before beginning another. This is an important time to reflect spiritually on your life, and release all that doesn’t serve you. Yogis say that it is terribly important to maintain a daily spiritual practice, avoid gossip and live with the highest integrity, but that advice can be given for the entire year.
Try this Saturn ritual when you are confronted with the confusion of life’s problems and seek to know the reasons why. Simply anoint yourself with myrrh oil when standing before your altar or other magical work space. Draw the glyph of Saturn, the cross with a crescent, looking much like the lowercase letters t and h combined, and ask with heartfelt honesty, by the power of Saturn, to have the lessons of the situation revealed to you, with clarity and understanding. Burn or bury the paper with the glyph and then listen. The answer may not be immediate, and may not come through the typical mystical means, but it will come. Listen to your friends and family and seemingly random messages that might have significance. Listen to the small still voice within, and find your answers.
Next: Uranus and Revolution.
* A Salem Witch’s Herbal by Laurie Cabot. Celtic Crow Publishing.
* Archetypes of the Zodiac by Kathleen Burt. Llewellyn.
* Astrological Magick by Estelle Daniels. (Samuel Weiser)
* Astrology From A to Z by Eleanor Bach. Evens and Company.
* Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic, by Scott Cunningham. Llewellyn.
* Lifting the Veil: Practical Kabbalah with Kundalini Yoga by Gurunam. Rootlight Publishing