Castration, Rape and a Sharp Blade: Saturn’s Tricky Childhood

Sunday August 14th 2011
Saturn is the master of time and death

I’m very excited to have my first guest here at the Oxford Astrologer. My friend and colleague Isy has very kindly agreed to share her insights into that old devil, Saturn. This is the first of a series on the subject.

I think her background in science and medicine giver her a special insight into the god of time measurement and comeuppance.

My Saturn placement is problematic. I was determined to come to terms with the old boy. 

At a certain point, after reading the Greek stories in translation over and over again, the words disappeared and Kronos/Saturn’s coming-of-age suddenly appeared before me in all its shocking, bloody, disturbing glory, and Saturn as a force began to make a lot more sense. Here is what I saw.
Uranus (Sky Father) came every night to cover Gaia (the Earth), whether she liked it or not. Their union was widely varied and truly bizarre, and Uranus hated their children – found them just hideous.  The first 12 were the Titans.

Uranus loathed his latter-born (the Cyclops and the Hundred-Handed) so much that he stuffed them into Tartarus — physically a part of his wife’s body, since Tartarus is inside the Earth.  This hurt Gaia horribly, in every way.

Transgressing one’s true nature or that of another is a recurring crime in the Saturnian myths.

Gaia crafted a flint sickle from her own body. (This detail tells you how old the story is.)  She exhorted her Titan sons, who were still free, to use this cutting-edge technology to castrate Uranus in order to stop the vicious cycle.

Only the youngest, Kronus (later romanized to Saturn), saw any point to it. He was the youngest Titan, the closest in age to his buried brethren, and had the least to lose. But as the youngest and least respected, he had no room for error.

Taking up the stone sickle, he lay in wait for Uranus’s nightly conjugal visit.  Staying hidden until his father was totally unaware, Kronus grasped the sickle and with a mighty slash he clove a gap between Sky and Earth.  He thus castrated his priapic father, without hurting his helpless mother, and created a potential space that had never existed before.

The Mutilation of Uranus by Giorgio Vasari


Can you imagine what that was like? For us mortal children, it is bad enough just to know our parents had sex! To hold himself silently in place, while his mother was raped, and to wait for exactly the moment of success, was a horrifying feat of nerve, precision, and absolute resolve. When you complain about Saturn’s intransigence, think of this, and realize what a price he paid for his success.

Moreover, he didn’t just save his mother. He carved a new space for things to grow, with a curved blade from the Earth.  Looks to me like the beginning of cultivation in Europe!

To see him as the force behind the natural laws that govern sowing and reaping, the payoff of hard work, and the unyielding  requirement of doing the right thing in the right place at the right time for the right result, is no stretch.

Is that malefic?  Or is it just hard?

Properly used, Saturn supplies the energy of rightful outcome for well-laid effort.  Think how carefully he planned his attack against someone much larger and more powerful than himself. With relentless precision and with no drama, he waited for the right moment, then used his tools to strike with total concentration and full force.

There is absolute power in the energy of Saturn, as surely as there is absolute frustration; it’s all in how accurately and mindfully you follow the real energies as they flow uniquely in your life.

For more of Isy’s writing on science, health, adaptation and sailing – see her blog Cauterising the Bleeding Edge.

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  1. libramoon says:

    The first blog url does not go to a working blog.

  2. Christina says:

    Thanks – I’ll check that

  3. Christina says:

    I’ve taken out that one and the other one works. I think there may be something funny going on with blogger.

  4. Christina says:

    Isy’s close reading of this story strips it down and has made me think of it afresh.

    The important lessons of Saturn are patience – and timing.

    Saturn is Father Time. So here Time has cut a space between heaven and earth.

    Hmm make you think doesn’t it.

  5. libramoon says:

    Thanks for this, Christina. Yes, it is thought provoking. I’ve been having my own dialogs with Saturn of late. She has been telling me about another kind of separating Earth from Sky, or my center from what floats by on air currents.

    Amazingly, after much initial despair over the US/world/individual angst, I seem to be going all philosophical and feeling personally empowered by letting the world go to Hell on its own — not callousness, relinquishing responsibility for others’ twisty paths

  6. Christina says:

    @Libramoon – that is a really interesting observation – and very Libran if I may say so.

    I think it’s significant that during this whole going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket periiod, Saturn is actually exalted in Libra, which means behaving at his very best.

    Saturn can show us what we are responsible for and really what is not our fault. That is because he is also the god of boundaries of course.

    And sometimes (often), we put those boundaries in the wrong place – either taking too much responsibility or too little.

    I had a client in this week who felt terribly responsible for a lot of issues in her life. She felt she had to take her problems into her own hands and solve them by herself. You’d think this was the right attitude. But while I was looking at her chart I realised the opposite was true. She needed to share her burden, to stop feeling she had to go it alone, to allow people to help. I think that is rather Saturn in Libra too.

  7. libramoon says:

    Sometimes sharing burden can be as much a gift as sharing joy. It allows us to connect in our fullness of experience. It allows to all be imperfect. It allows us to grow, individually and together.

  8. Christina says:

    Beautifully put – Libramoon

  9. Isy Aweigh says:

    Knowing the real impediments makes them so much easier to deal with 🙂

    Sharing your burdens can be a life-changing experience. Not just allowing, but humbly inviting, people to help me when I needed it most was one of the most profound experiences of my entire life. I understand a new definition of Love now.

    Come to think of it, it was only after doing so that Saturn began to insist on becoming clear to me.

  10. Isy Aweigh says:

    I’ve tuned settings on the livinganyway blog, so it should be more friendly.

    Ironic — or retrogradely Mercurial — that it’s the one to tank, because that’s the blog where I’ve posted on mythology and astrological forces.

  11. Lili Wilde says:

    Wonderful, insightful post that makes the mythology both fresh and somehow less grotesque and more beautiful in the hard, painful way of human lives… the gods as just one more f***ed up family. Lovely.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Saturn as the son of the Goddess. Laws and timing being turned on the oppressor. Interesting. Where is Judith?

    • Christina says:

      Excellent point. My daughter (10) was so taken by the story of Judith recently that she wrote a story about what happened next… I was a little taken aback but pleased!

  13. Isy Aweigh says:

    And here are updated links to my blogs (the blogspot pages got hijacked)… where you can search for more mythology & mythography for medical and science info in plain English.

    Warms me considerably to read these comments. Thank you 🙂

  14. […] To read a wonderful retelling of this tale, click here. […]

  15. purohitsforpooja says:

    I apologize, but I can’t access external websites, including the one you’ve mentioned, to view or comment on specific blog posts. However, if you have any specific questions or if there’s a topic related to the content you’d like to discuss, please provide more details, and I’d be happy to provide information or insights to the best of my knowledge.