When Saturn Goes Off the Rails

Monday August 29th 2011

Saturn devouring his son by Rubens


In the third instalment of her thought-provoking series on Saturn, OA guest Isy explains what happened next and what that means to you.

If you need to catch up, click  the links below to read the two previous instalments to this series.

The (Kind of Creepy) Birth of Venus

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

Though the force of Saturn is aligned with core truth, the mythical Saturn didn’t always act accordingly. Let’s take up the story again…

Once Saturn had struck down his father, Uranus,, his terrifying siblings the Cyclops and Hundred-Handed were freed.  They helped him secure his power base and take over the leadership of the gods.  Then Saturn ruled over the Golden Age of humanity, when sickness, hunger, rage, and pain were unknown.

So what did Saturn do, when all the shouting died down and his position was secure?  He forced his younger brothers right back into Tartarus, into his mother’s violated body.

Gaia told him, bluntly, that he would “get his” at the hands of his own child, just as his father had.

Saturn’s wife was Rhea, true daughter of Primordial Earth.  Saturn knew better than to stuff Rhea’s children back into her, so instead he swallowed them whole, and they lived inside him, imprisoned.

  • Upside: fewer crimes and less argument.
  • Downside: same robbery of his wife’s fecund nature and negation of his own seed.  Moreover, it was a willful effort to short-circuit divine justice.  (Is it still called hubris if it’s done by gods?)

Rhea had more help than Gaia.  By the time little Jupiter came along, Rhea had enough friends to hide the baby from the sight, smell and hearing of her rotten husband.  She wrapped a rock in baby’s clothes and, sobbing convincingly, gave Saturn that to swallow instead.  He didn’t know the difference … until Jupiter grew up, and Saturn lost everything.

Thus ended the Golden Age – a huge loss, unlooked-for and unintended, but totally logical.  Whether Saturn’s energy gives, withholds, or takes, it does so with both hands.

Saturn’s force of accuracy and truth doesn’t give you room to deny, delay, do it wrong or take shortcuts. It does make room to succeed on the terms appropriate to the forces in play.  Instead of mulling limitations, try thinking in terms of finding the right time, best action and core truth.  Things could really open up.

This involves understanding the flow of forces and the main movers in each chart, which will be unique. (For this reason, the correct course for me would spell failure for my siblings, and my trying to do things their way is doomed.  Though related, we’re that different.)  So, nestled in the heart of Saturn’s determination and rigor is an absolute requirement to be true to your core Self – and respect that of others.

No correct effort driven by Saturn contradicts your nature.  It may not be comfortable, attractive, or anything you’d ever expect of yourself.  But if it’s a true Saturnian move, it’s compatible with your core.

Expect to be surprised, because the gods don’t care who we think we are.  They care what we’re truly capable of.

For more of Isy’s writing on health, adaptation, science, and sailing…
* Health and Life with CRPS-1:

* Cauterizing the Bleeding Edge: http://biowizardry.blogspot.com 

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  1. Christina says:

    Thank you Isy for a brilliantly pithy and thought-provoking analysis of the Saturn myth.

    In astrology, one of Saturn’s roles is the upholding of tradition. So it’s interesting that he followed in his father’s footsteps even though denying his seed etc was bound to lead to trouble. One of the lessons there is surely not to follow tradition blindly.

  2. Isy Aweigh says:

    Perhaps it’s a question of choosing the tradition to follow?

    He felt compelled to follow part of his father’s path, as many who grow up with abusive parents do; however, if he had been more aware/mindful of the older tradition of reverence for Gaia — which Ouranos had lost, in his own timeframe — he might have done better.

    I should clarify something I’ve left largely inferred: This isn’t *instead* of Saturn’s traditional roles, but *in addition* to them. Limitations can illuminate the path to success, even though it’s not a success you’d have expected.

    My own injuries (most obviously shown in the Chiron/Saturn conj and repeated over and over in my chart) being a rather stunning case in point.

    The relative success that has followed my work on understanding CRPS (inside & out) and disseminating that understanding is quite breathtaking, even in these early days of my work, but I avoided pursuing it for years and I’d almost rather have died than go through this.

    Personally, I see Saturn’s big, luggy bootprints all over this.

  3. Isy Aweigh says:

    It may be worth adding that child abuse and rape are not traditions that are supported by Saturnian influences.

    Considering how many cultures and subcultures have them ingrained, this makes for some interesting contemplation — especially for those of us who, like Saturn, had tricky childhoods.

  4. Christina says:

    @Isy – yes limitations, boundaries, Saturn.

    And then in the story he breaks this taboo totally – and the world falls apart.

    I strongly associate Pluto with child abuse and rape, BTW. One of the differences is that with Saturn there is always a lesson to be learned, a gain you can make. But with Pluto sometimes the only ting you learn is that life sucks and you have no control over it.

  5. Sabrina says:

    “the gods don’t care who we think we are. They care what we’re truly capable of”…Loved it!

  6. Isy Aweigh says:

    Thanks, Sabrina 🙂

    I’m humbly delighted by the reception these pieces have had, and intrigued by the further thoughts provoked by the comments.

  7. Opal says:

    This series is fascinating. Thanks.

  8. Christina, I tend to think that with Pluto, sometimes all you can do is go down to the depths of the Underworld with it, let a part of you “die,” and then be later “reborn” in a way that is totally transformed. Sometimes the rebirth doesn’t happen until long after, when the experience has been processed. And yes, sometimes the “death” involves an acknowledgment that life sucks and we’re not always in control.

    I had a similar experience to Isy’s, with injury to my wrist forcing me to take a different path. Saturn was square my natal Mars at the time, and Pluto was more exactly square my natal Pluto/Uranus. My injury was very sudden (Uranus), but it happened when I had lingered way too long in a profession that was increasingly inappropriate for me. Though the permanent injury is a challenge, it ended up being liberating for me. Perhaps that liberation is the Uranus influence (as in Rick Tarnas’ view of Uranus as Prometheus the Awakener – thanks for that book recommendation, Christina).

    Pluto transits tend to really really suck, but I do think that later, they leave room for something new to be born.

  9. Christina says:

    @Laura – thanks for that story and I think you’re right about just going down. Personally, Pluto transits have always been difficult for me. I found I simply had to be ruthless with certain aspects of my life. I had to internalise the Pluto power to get through.