From Astrodienst Astrowiki
Jump to: navigation, search
The planet Saturn in true colors[1]

Symbol: A26_087.gif


Saturn is the second largest planet of the Solar System. It is the planet most distant from the sun that can normally be seen in the sky with the naked eye (Uranus is visible under special conditions). Saturn moves slower than all other visible planets. It takes 29 1/2 years to circle the Sun, its fastest diurnal movement is 8.6 minutes of arc, with an average of 2 minutes of arc.

When viewed through a telescope, the most striking feature of Saturn are its rings, which are composed of lumps of rock and ice of various sizes. They turn observation of Saturn into an impressive spectacle.

Greek Mythology

Cronus or Kronos (Latin Saturn) in a general way was simply the personification of time; although this was often meant in a destructive sense. Notwithstanding, as a former king of the gods Cronus ruled over the Greeks' mythical Golden Age.

As a male god, Cronus was the youngest of the first generation of Titans and leader of the gods before Zeus. Encouraged by his mother Gaia, he deposed and castrated his father Ouranos (Uranus) because Ouranos hated the children she bore him and imprisoned them in Tartarus. In order to prevent the same thing recurring with his own children, Cronus devoured his offspring immediately after they were born. Only Zeus, his youngest, managed to escape this fate with the aid of Cronus's wife Rhea.

This myth can be understood metaphorically, as time devouring all things.

Zeus indeed later rose up to avenge his siblings and deposed and castrated his own father. The defeated Cronus was banished to the underworld although Zeus soon took pity on him. He forgave Cronus and sent him to the Isles of the Blessed in the Western Ocean. He did not become involved in the battles of the Olympian gods; his kingdom, like the cycle of the planet Saturn in the sky, was peaceful and leisurely.

Saturn: a Grim Reaper, lame old man, and the ruler of Capricorn and Aquarius[2]

Cronus's more contemplative, peaceful characteristics equate with Saturn, who was originally the god of agriculture in ancient Italy. He was also a wise teacher who acquainted humans with the achievements of civilisation and showed them how to cultivate the land. Every year in the middle of December, the Romans commemorated Saturn with a feast called the Saturnalia, when all the usual roles were reversed and masters had to serve the slaves in their own houses.

With the development of western astrology in the Middle Ages, Saturn was personified as an old man, the bringer of the end of life and various misfortunes.


Saturn rules the skeletal frame, teeth, and hair. It is also associated with the skin in its function as the body's boundary.[3]

Saturn rules farmers and old age, a reflection of its mythological heritage. Traditional astrologers attribute most types of misfortunes to Saturn.

Saturn rules the sign of Capricorn and is in detriment in Cancer. It is exalted in Libra and in fall in Aries. Traditional astrologers also cite Saturn as the ruler of Aquarius and its detriment in Leo, whereas modern astrologers give Uranus the rulership of Aquarius.


Saturn, formerly the last planet of our solar system, has been called the "Guardian of the Threshold," beyond which lie the outer planets unknown to astrologers until early modern times. Saturn is the symbol for limitations and hardships; yet Saturn also shows where patience and hard work may pay rewards later in life. It makes individuals aware of the restrictions under which they must live. Saturn therefore symbolizes the rules of society which are designed to uphold law and order; as opposed to more philosophical concerns with justice in the law, symbolised by Jupiter.

Saturn embodies the principle of contraction and concentration, i.e. the focusing on what is essential, the essence of things; as opposed to Jupiter, which is the principle of expansion. As the principle which supports structure, Saturn gives support and stability. It embodies the material world.

Saturn and Jupiter are classified as social planets. Saturn takes on average 2 1/2 years to pass through one sign of the zodiac, which means that all those born during this period have Saturn in the same sign. Its house position and aspects indicate where and how a person is likely to have difficulties and feel inhibited, insecure or possibly trapped. It takes time and hard work for individuals to overcome their fears and further their personal development. Saturn continually confronts us with challenges to overcome, as indicated by its sign and house. Consequently a person can master these areas of life through repeated hard experience.

This process usually becomes easier after the first Saturn return, which occurs at around 29.5 years of age when transiting Saturn makes its first conjunction with Saturn's position in the natal chart. This transit is considered to mark an important stage on the way to personal maturity.

The second Saturn return, occurring around the age of 58, marks the transition from middle age into senior status. Whether or not the individual learned Saturn's lessons becomes apparent around this time. For example, a person who did not save money in middle age might have no retirement income.

Saturn transits indicate a slowing down, a concentration on what is essential. They force an individual to mature and take on responsibility. They usually indicate times of hard work but also the fruits of this hard labour. In traditional astrology, Saturn was feared as a symbol of bad luck, death and the devil. Modern psychological astrologers argue that even though Saturn brings hard lessons in life, it gives great potential to those who are willing to submit to its demands. Its motto is patience and perseverance. These qualities can help a person to achieve great personal insight and inner freedom (Free Will). The pain that often accompanies such processes can be a catalyst that impels an individual to persevere.

Melencolia I by Albrecht Dürer

See also


Greene's book


  • Dobyns, Zipporah. 1996, The Book of Saturn, ACS Publications.
  • Greene, Liz. 1976. Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil, Samuel Weiser, Inc. (York Beach, ME.) ISBN 0-87728-306-0.
Traces Saturn's influence through the signs and houses
  • Tierney, Bil. 1999. Twelve Faces of Saturn: Your Guardian Angel Planet, Llewellyn Publications.

Notes and References

  1. Picture from Cassini on 10/6/2004, distance 6,3 Million km
  2. Artist: Hans Sebald Beham (1539)
  3. In its other function as a sensual organ the skin is ruled by Venus