Saturn is the second-largest planet in our solar system and is, with an equatorial diameter of approx. 120 600 km, almost ten times larger than the
earth. The distance from its centre to the sun is more than 1 400 000 000 km and the sidereal circulation time is 29.458 years. Due to the rapid rotation Saturn is the most flattened planet of all and its polar and equatorial diameter varies considerably. The rotation time is 10 hours 14 minutes. Apart from traces of water, methane, ammonia and rock material, Saturn mainly consists of hydrogen and helium. Its surface temperature is -150°C, interior is a hot core.
The seven rings are doubtless most significant for the planet, circling round Saturn with a speed of 72 000 km/h. When Galileo first discovered the rings he was quite confused about the strange “handles” surrounding Saturn. It was not before the middle of the 17th century that Huygens recognised the system of the rings circling around the planet without any points of contact. The rings
consist of billions of small ice and stone particles and are separated by divisions where ring material can also be found. The varying circling speed of the inner and outer ring particles avoids that the ring system unites to one huge satellite.
Furthermore Saturn is surrounded by numerous satellites, some of them
contributing in keeping the rings in their course. Until 1990, there were 18 Saturn moons discovered and named: Atlas, Dione, Encelados, Epimetheus, Helene, Hyperion, Japetos, Janus, Kalypso, Mimas, Pan, Pandora, Phoebe, Prometheus, Rhea, Telesto, Tethys and Titan, the largest moon of Saturn and the only one with an atmosphere worth mentioning. Long time it was thought that Titan even was the largest satellite in the solar system until it was
discovered that its surface under the thick atmosphere is smaller than Ganymede, the Jupiter moon. However, with a diameter of more than 5 000 km, Titan even compares to the size of a planet.
From the beginning of the 21st century the number of Saturn moons discovered positively exploded. Improved observations have triggered a hunt for new satellites of Saturn so that in the year 2013, Saturn had 53 named satellites and numerous more still waiting for official confirmation and naming.
Saturn was the Roman god of agriculture, first appearing as Etruscan god of
sowing, education and law. Sat is an Etruscan word for sowing but also for satiate. Due to the Greek influence Saturn’s attributes have been assimilated with the early Greek deity of Kronos. In Greek mythology Kronos was the youngest son of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Heaven). They begot six female and six male Titans, all of them thrown into the Abyss (Tartaros) by Uranus. But Gaia contrived a plan and she could win Kronos over to help her.
Kronos castrated his father with a sickle that Gaia gave him, and Uranus' blood that was dropping to the earth produced the Erinyes, Giants and Nymphs. From his sperm which fell into the sea Aphrodite was born - in other version was Aphrodite a daughter of Zeus and the Titan daughter Dione.
Kronos took the throne and his Titan sister Rhea in marriage. Together they
reigned the so called “Golden Age”, a period of incessant joy, where people lived carefree without any laws, wars and discord.
Kronos, predicted to be overthrown by one of his children, devoured five of his offspring right after their birth. But Rhea was able to preserve her sixth child Zeus from the fate of his other brothers and sisters by outwitting Kronos and giving him a stone to swallow instead of the new-born child. And so could the
prophecy come true, as so often in Greek mythology, at the attempt to avoid it. Zeus grew up hidden, returned and conquered the Olympus, overthrew his father and compelled him to vomit the five children he had swallowed. Zeus brought Kronos to Ogygia from where he is watching the deeds of his son in his dreams, waiting for the day to recreate and reign again the Golden Age.
The Romans more and more adopted the legend of the Golden Age, as well as
the ritual feasts in honour of the deity. For example the festive days of the Saturnalia were soon identified with Kronos and fully Hellenised. In later history Saturn also appeared as god of time and death.
It takes Saturn 2.5 years to move through a sign of the zodiac and 29.5 years to run once around the zodiac. Saturn rules Capricorn and Aquarius. Its position in the horoscope indicates mental conflicts and uncertainties. Saturn makes
rules, shows one’s own limitations, represents structure, learning, knowledge and patience, and enables oneself to mature and to take responsibility.
In the following an astrological description of Saturn by Robert Hand from the book ”Horoscope Symbols” (more information at the end of the text):
Saturn is central to an understanding of the individual and his awareness, though its importance is of a different kind from that of the Sun, Moon, and other personal points. Since Saturn is so slow-moving, its position in the zodiac does not distinguish one individual very well from another. Yet Saturn is an energy that concerns collectives, and the relationship of an individual to the
collective aspects of life is one of the most important things we can know about a person.
One matter must be dealt with immediately. Saturn is undergoing a great rehabilitation nowadays, and most modern writers agree that it is not as malefic as was once thought. Just as Jupiter, once called the ”greater benefic,” can indicate difficult energies at times, it is also now recognized that Saturn can
play a positive role. Yet its power for destruction is still great, not because it is intrinsically destructive, but because in many cases we do not know how to handle Saturn energy. Those who have studied planetary energies have learned to handle what is traditionally describes as ”Saturn's malefic effects,” but few have learned that Saturn's greatest threats to happiness come at precisely those times when it seems to be operating positively. In order to understand this, we
must first understand Saturn's basic meanings.
In the course of this text we shall see that Saturn can be seen as the opposite pole of several planetary energies. This stems from the all-pervasive nature of Saturn. Before we look at Saturn's polar relation to Jupiter, let us examine the concept of polarity.
The experience of the universe that we share with each other is founded directly upon the principle of polarity: up-down, left-right, male-female,
backward-forward, I-thou, I-it, good-evil, and so forth. In every pair of polar opposites, each member of the pair derives its meaning from the opposite member: each would be meaningless without the other. We all have noted that anything, no matter how pleasurable it might be at first, in excess becomes cloying and even unpleasant. We enjoy cooling off when it is too hot, warming up when it is too cold. And it is not just a matter of finding a balance. Most
people need to go back and forth at least to some degree in order really to appreciate one or the other side of any polarity. This is true even of good and evil. At times, most of us enjoy doing what might be considered evil, but few appreciate unalloyed evil. Similarly, most people find those who are too good rather trying. I believe, along with the various schools of Eastern philosophy, that polarity is intrinsic to the nature of the universe, and that it is proper for
humanity to follow the shifting paths between polar opposites. This is the path of the Tao.
Reality itself gains its varied nature from the interweaving of polar opposites. Without them, there would be no reality that we could relate to, in fact, no existence. Even existence is polarized by nonexistence.
In the Jupiter-Saturn polarity, the individual pursuing a Jupiterian path reaches out to incorporate as much of the universe as possible. But if this were
carried to completion, all existence would be incorporated within the individual. And if the individual were to be everything, in experience as well as fact, there would be nothing to experience outside of the self. Yet one's awareness of oneself is with reference to that which is not part of one. Not-self creates awareness of self; awareness of self creates not-self. When there is only self, the game of existence comes to an end.
For this reason, the universe resists the individual's reaching out. At some point, it says, ”No! You cannot come any further.” This is the energy of Saturn. It is the energy that maintains reality as we understand it. It makes the rules, sets the limits, creates the structure, and defines the nature of the game.
Saturn energy affects collectives because it represents that aspect of reality which arises from a consensus among human beings. Saturn energy does not
represent truth or absolute reality. It represents a reality that is created socially, operates within a social universe, and has its greatest effects upon an individual in a socially defined context. Those aspects of reality that are purely personal are not so strongly affected by the Saturn archetype.
Saturn tends to direct the attention of an individual outside the self. It may represent others' opinions, others' needs, others' ideas of the truth, others' law,
or more accurately, collective law, collective truth, and so forth.
The difficulty with Saturn comes from two sources, only one of which is widely understood. That is the one that has given Saturn its reputation as the ”greater malefic.”
It is not pleasant when reaching out to grasp something to be told it is not attainable. It is not pleasant to encounter one's limitations the first time (although it is pleasant to know them and live according to them without
resistance). It is not pleasant to encounter rules that thwart one. Nor is it pleasant to encounter the natural but unlovely consequences of one's mistakes. Sometimes one's collisions with the rules of the game are so violent that they can kill, or at least destroy what one has painfully wrought over the years.
These, the well-known difficulties with Saturn energy, result from not understanding either one's own limitations or the rules of the game. While
Saturn permits and even strengthens certain aspects of personal reality, such reality cannot come into conflict with social, collective, or consensus reality. When it does, the rules of collective reality work with an almost automatic quality, such that one seems to be only suffering the consequences of one's actions. From this come the ideas that Saturn brings what one deserves, or that Saturn is the Lord of Karma. This side of Saturn can handled simply by
becoming adequately conscious of the nature of the given situation. In fact, it is such encounters with situations that cause one to mature. Although Saturn here is often painful, it is actually quite creative and is necessary in human experience. This positive side of Saturn's energies has been brought out strongly in recent literature.
The truly serious problem of Saturn lies in the ideal of reality itself: namely,
the equation of reality with truth. Reality seems immutable, orderly, and eternal. Yet life is so short that we cannot see whether or not at some fundamental level the rules of the game are slowly changing. But they may be. What we with our limited perspective think of as reality is not necessarily truth.
Nevertheless, we need this reality: the experience of living in a universe where everything is in flux, where no rule can be counted on, or where an
understanding of yesterday provides no clue for understanding tomorrow, would be enough to send most of us to the madhouse. We depend on a reality system for support, and even if we are at times unfamiliar with its rules, we are grateful for its existence.
Reality is structure, and so is Saturn. Reality is limitation, and so is Saturn, for everything is as much defined by what it is not as by what it is. If I took a
chair and said ”Let the essence of this chair fill this room,” and it were to do so, we would lose the ability to perceive the chair. The chair is defined both by the fact that it occupies whatever space it occupies, and the fact that it does not occupy whatever space it does not occupy. Reality is created by a process of exclusion, of eliminating other possible realities. This aspect of exclusion is one of Saturn's most important attributes.
The existence of reality as we have described it is not the problem, however. The problem is our addiction to reality. I believe that there are many possible realities and that the world we share is only one of them. Even if you do not agree, it is obvious that within this reality there are many situations where it is possible to define reality in several ways.
Yet we cannot live with this: we create realities where there are none, simply
for the sake of having structure. We exalt belief systems to the level of reality and then persecute others who do not share them. And even more important for ourselves as individuals, we needlessly limit our lives and our growth by excluding possibilities that might bring new life.
This is why aging is ruled by Saturn. As we get older we actualize more and more and thus have less and less potential. We run the risk of rigidity and
premature death. Death ultimately can be understood as the time when all is actualized (at least in this life) and there is no more potential. One can come very close to this state without actually undergoing physical death. This is the real and very serious danger of Saturn.
Structure becomes rigidity, discipline becomes narrowness, order becomes a straitjacket, and too much patterning kills spontaneity. On another level, an
individual's conformity to the consensus of any particular time in history comes to limit, define, and ultimately to strangle that person's creative potential. And this creative potential is the only hope for the future progress of culture. Every time we do what is untrue to our nature, acting not from a real necessity but rather to fulfill what others may expect of us, we commit a crime against ourselves that is peculiarly Saturnine. We move a bit more toward death, more
of our potential becomes actual, and what is actual does not express what we are.
Like all energies, Saturn energy has its time and place. But, because Saturn issues are so central to social existence, we are likely to apply Saturn principles to situations where they are inappropriate. Being mature and able to accept responsibility is Saturnine; so is being guilt-ridden about one's inadequacies. Having a clearly defined image of who and what one is is Saturnine; but so is
being so isolated from others that one cannot relate successfully. Alienation and one's sense of having a separate self are the same energy in different degrees in different situations. Knowing one's limitations is Saturnine; so is settling for too little in life. Being realistic is Saturnine; but so is compromising one's integrity and denying one's self-expression for fear of seeing what is really possible in the world.
As the planetary embodiment of the forces that shape our lives and give them form in the context of a social universe, Saturn is strongly connected to the symbolism of the father. Indeed, Saturn's symbolism is most clearly seen in myths about father-gods. The closest mythological representation of Saturn is not the Saturn-Kronos of Greco-Roman myth, but the Yahweh-Jehovah of the most ancient parts of the Old Testament. This god hands down commandments
and demands obedience to them. He is just and righteous in a peculiarly rigid way that lacks mercy: to this god, obeying the letter of the law is more important than acting in gentleness or peace.
A strong Saturn often indicates a particularly powerful experience of the father principle (sometimes, but not necessarily, embodied in one's biological father). This father principle is experienced in all situations that call for
learning a discipline, growing into a social role, or learning the rules. School is Saturnine. So are teachers and guide figures, and often one's boss or employer.
Saturn tends to focus one's concern on areas of life that need work - not only in the natal chart, but also as Saturn transits and progresses through the natal chart after birth, highlighting various areas of the chart and forcing growth in
those directions. Many of the major crises of adulthood are represented at least in part by Saturn transits. These are times when one has to make decisions and pass up one path in favor of another. In this way Saturn energies actualize our lives and at the same time limit future possibilities. Such a process is necessary, though it can have dangerous consequences.
Saturn only deals with normal, day-to-day kinds of consciousness. It cannot
anticipate the unprecedented, nor can it deal with the energies through which new life and creative powers enter the universe. If Saturn is too strong, it will even deny the emergence of such energies. Herein lies another of the deadlier attributes of Saturn. It is the function of the next planet in the solar system, Uranus, to create disruptions in the orderly world of Saturn so that creative energies can flow.
”Horoscope Symbols” by Robert Hand
published by Whitford Press