Astrological symbology of the planets: Saturn, the marginal genius and melancholy

in Philosophy2 months ago (edited)

Saturday in English is Saturday, which comes from the Latin "Saturni dies" and means "the day of Saturn", that is precisely why I choose this day to submit this post about this planet, which since I started studying its symbolism in astrology I was deeply infatuated, in the melancholic and heavy way but not for that less aware and beautiful that only he knows how to generate. This is why I begin a series of analysis with one of my favorite planets.


To Walden, or Life in the Woods.

"It sounds weird but I wish one could be sad all the time. My best moments are like this".

The planets -beyond being just lifeless rocks orbiting in space that have magnetic fields or some other physical forces- are also concentrations of meaning; powers with a sense, order and definite structure; differentiated from each other; they are archetypes. This was seen that way by ancient philosophers and from the point of view of astrology; the great so-called pseudoscience (currently recognized by many as no more than a placebo effect) that for me is only a way to embellish the world and perhaps escape a little from it, to give a little sense to what does not make sense, to give order to all the chaos in a beautiful way. This is why I became an amateur after starting to study astrology, according to which each planet is associated with an element, with certain astrological signs, with certain emotional, material and even psychological traits. Beautiful, don't you think?

According to Greek mythology, Saturn is represented by Chronos, the old time father and (therefore) lord of death, this is why there is also the notion of Saturn as the planet of creation and destruction -without creation it cannot be destruction- an old gentleman with a long white beard holding a sickle or scythe in his hand, considered a stormy and cruel force of disorder and chaos. In Roman mythology he has a more positive picture, since he was considered a god of agriculture and harvest, a god of fertility. That is why there were the so-called Saturnalias, a festival that took place between December 17 and 24 in honor of Saturn.

Saturn symbolizes limits and boundaries of all kinds; according to the Ptolemaic scheme and the Hermetic scheme, the cosmos is made up of seven planetary spheres, and the seventh is Saturn, the last sphere that is the door that marks the return of the soul to the eighth sphere, that of the fixed stars, to the spirit world. Thus, Saturn is limit and guardian at the same time. He is a demanding mentor who stands right on the edge of the (un)known and indicates what responsibilities we must take seriously, he gives structure and form to existence.

It also symbolizes control, moderation and especially structure, which has been its key word; according to astrology, in the anatomy Saturn is associated with the bones, it is Time Father who gives us the skeleton on which to build our lives according to the law, it is the highest authority that grants punishment for acts that disobey the law.

It represents discipline, order, reason, strength and endurance; He is a cold, firm and hard figure who points the way of duty, the responsibilities that morality imposes, thus being an authority figure with a high sense of justice who represents the law and the preservation of order, which drives us to overcome the negative restrictions and limitations that we have imposed ourselves in order to generate internal discipline, develop strength and be able to grow. It is the conservation drive.

"Cronos" by MorkarDFC

Saturn creates and destroys, a benevolent lord and at the same time a fierce punisher, the lord of karma according to modern astrology, it is the law of cause and effect in action, life here is our merits and deficits, linked in this way to justice and reward. The planet of justice in all aspects, and this precisely does not make it very popular. Our karmas will be seen as punishments by this time father if we are not able to assume them, but if we do they will be seen as a generator of growth and therefore of a positive future. Saturn is conservative or controlling depending on how we see it, the embodiment of a balancing and shaping drive, without it things would spin out of control; yet a fearful Saturn may resort to overly rigid control, an unbalanced Saturn.

This is the planet of old age, of maturity, therefore of wisdom that is only acquired through experience; It is all those old people happy because the responsibilities and burdens weigh less. The planet of long-term plans and strategy, which can often be underestimated due to lack of insight, patience, or persistence.

People with a strong Saturn in them are usually people who rarely feel young, the "old souls", serious and responsible people, of reserved and dignified disposition, but if found with the planet badly located (unbalanced) can get to be overly pedagogical or even suspicious. They are people with a highly developed sense of responsibility, it is that child who learned through poverty and deprivation, and that is why he/she developed a great internal strength and wisdom that is demonstrated in a more advanced phase of his/her life. Disciplined and severe but therefore fair personalities, who do not have time for false games or debates.

Screenshot made from here

Andrew Dufresne, from the movie The Shawshank Redemption (1994), a character who fits perfectly into the Saturnian archetype.

From the alchemical point of view, Saturn is associated with lead, which is the base material to be transformed into gold. It represents the first stage of the alchemical work, the “nigredo”, in which through putrefaction the raw material for the transmutation work is obtained. Some authors take the origin of the word "alchemy" as a reference to "kheme" or "chemia", which means "black land" or "the blackest land" and refers to Egypt, according to Plutarch, and also to the black part of the pupils, which according to the book Alchemical Traditions is "the part of the eye that serves as a black mirror of light and is linked to Isis and Kore in microcosmic anatomy."

There is a relationship between the earth element that is linked to Saturn and the melancholic humor or "black bile". In ancient times it was taught that melancholics are the people most prone to the study of Hermeticism; Marsilio Ficino, who was considered a Saturnian personality and suffered from depressive episodes that led him to his consecration with the study of philosophy and religion, owes much to the popular notion in which genius is linked to melancholy, and regarding Saturn he once said:

"It cannot mean the quality and the common lot of the human race, but it marks the individual who has been separated from the others, divine or gross, blessed or lashed by the extremes of misery."

In this way, he refers to a marginal genius, since we are subject to Saturn through solitude, occultism, leisure and mourning; it calls us to introvertly use the energy that we normally use in an extrovert way, to transmute it into ourselves and thus reach the depths of the soul to achieve wisdom. Saturn is linked to the stage of winter recollection, cold, isolation and reflection since it is also associated, according to astrologer John Frawley, with the energy of contraction.

The Saturnian personality is meditative and solitary, gruff and dry, but very patient and dedicated to a job that makes him go further and fully fills him. Saturn is the destroyer of illusions and makes reality show, something that in the midst of our pain may seem negative, but by forcing us to face our problems and defects makes us good in reality. Thus, for him, melancholy is a poison and at the same time a medicine that makes him disappointed of worldly pleasures and directs his genius to the highest scales of wisdom, to philosophy in its most abstract form. Thus, Marsilio Ficino tells us in "De Vita":

"... But of those men of knowledge, especially those who are oppressed by black bile, being diligently devoted to the study of philosophy, they withdraw their minds from the body and bodily things and apply them to the incorporeal. The cause of this is that the more difficult the work the more concentration of the mind it requires; and second, the more they apply their mind to incorporeal truths, the more they are called to separate it from the body. This is why their body appears as if it is half-dead and frequently melancholic.”


Patience is one of the qualities typically attributed to these personalities, and it is also associated with the archetype of the senex god, which according to James Hillman, refers to our omniscient and omnipotent god who with his great beard governs us through abstract principles of morality, order and justice, benevolent but furious when his will is disgruntled. Now, about this senex archetype and patience, Hillman himself tells us about it:

Saturn retains the attributes of Kronos; he is a fertility god. Saturn invented agriculture; this god of the earth and the peasant, the harvest and the saturnalia, is ruler of the fruit and the seed. Even his castrating scythe is a planting tool. It would have to be Saturn who invented agriculture: only the senex has the patience that equates to that of the land and can understand the conservation of the land and the conservatorship of those who work it; only the senex has the necessary time for the seasons and its chronic repetition; the ability to abstract in order to master the geometry of the plow, the essence of the seeds, to make the numbers report back profits, the compost, the solitude ... "

Hillman also said that "Alchemists spoke of patience as the first quality of the soul and considered the elaboration of the soul the longest way, a via longissima."

Saturn is associated with the color black, gray or green; its mineral is calcium and its number is 4. In the physiology, with the skeleton and teeth. It is associated with anything dark in color, blockages, old age, farms, wool, and cold. Among the professions under the cloak of this planet we have those of judge, businessman, comedian, miner, brewer or even archaeologist. Poplar and cypress trees are intimately associated with this planet as well as dry, hard and hawthorn leaves, spreading roots and poisonous plants, also spinach and barley, as well as deserted places and forests, caves, mines, drains, wells or muddy or dirty places.

Without a doubt, what I love the most about this planet is its enigmatic and distant beauty, its severity and rectitude, how it governs the melancholy of those disenchanted with worldly experience and therefore a symbol of resilience, consciousness and wisdom beyond the material. How it calls us not to reject sadness but to accept and use it, to transmute it and transform it into gold, to accept it as part of experience and turn it into knowledge, to become ashes, to be reborn and to transcend. How it drives us to reach the limit, to that edge and look inward, downward, to contemplate the abyss.

Melancholic and hypnotic images to the rhythm of the music of saQi, which call us to let ourselves be carried away by the vertigo of Saturn and go beyond the limits of its rings.

Sources consulted:

4: Hall, J. (2012). La biblia de la astrología. Madrid. Gaia Ediciones. ISBN 978-84-8445-372-7.

“To be sure, I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

This content is the english version of an article of mine that was originally in spanish and posted 2 years ago on my blog. I wanted to share it with the english-speaking community in this opportunity. This "translation" was made by myself @ailindigo, the original author, and you can read the post in spanish here.

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