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Saturn

Mythology of Saturn

What is the mythological origin of Saturn

Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, the god of agriculture. The associated Greek god, Cronus, was the son of Uranus and Gaia and the father of Zeus (Jupiter).

Saturn Mythology Stories

Kronos, lord of time, was the youngest son of Ouranos and Gaia, sky and earth. These two emerged from primal chaos coupled in an endless embrace in which there was no room for children. Gaia was forced to confine them within her body as soon as they were born. She resented this and grieved the loss of her children, so she conspired with Kronos to end the embrace.

She gave him a specially-fashioned adamantine sickle with jagged teeth. Deep within the earth, his mother, Kronos located his father’s penis and cut it off, then took it and threw it into the sea. Ouranos and Gaia sprang apart, never to be reunited. Thus did the Lord of Time create the separation between spirit and matter.

The severed member floated for a long time, and eventually, from the foam that surrounded it, Aphrodite was born. From the flecks of blood that were flicked from it, the Erinyes were created to avenge wickedness and the spilling of blood within families.

Thus the Titans, Kronos’ brothers, were released and they declared that Kronos should be the second ruler of heaven. He released the Cyclopes and other prisoners in Tartarus, but while he vowed to rule differently, it was not long before the corruption of power overcame him, and he became the same tyrant his father was. Gaia warned him that, like his father, he would be overthrown by one of his children.

A Middle Ages impression of Saturn eating his children.

A Middle Ages impression of Saturn eating his children.

When Kronos married his sister Rhea, he swallowed all the children of the union lest one of them overthrow him. Rhea, like Gaia, was unhappy with this, so when Zeus was to be born she fled to Crete, delivering the child in secret, and bringing back to Kronos a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes. Kronos demanded she feed the child, so Rhea expressed milk that became the stars of the Milky Way.

Kronos eventually discovered the deception, but he did not know where the child was, so he hunted through the earth. On his travels he saw the Oceanid Philyra and swore to have her. She resisted by turning herself into a mare to escape but Kronos changed into a stallion and had his way with her. The product of this union was the centaur, Chiron, a god with the form of half man, half horse. Philyra was so distressed by this monster offspring that she changed into a linden tree.

Meanwhile, Zeus, now grown, persuaded the Oceanid Metis, his first wife, to administer a drug to Kronos to force him to vomit up the remaining children. Zeus promised that those who had suffered under Kronos would be raised up and honoured if they would fight with him to overthrow Kronos and the Titans. When this was done he bound them in chains and cast them into the darkness of Tartarus. Zeus later released Kronos and granted him dominion over the Islands of the Blest, a heavenly abode of the virtuous after death.

Despite the tyrannical nature of Kronos’ rulership, it was known among men as the Golden Age, the first age of man, when there was no punishment, no war and no work, a time of milk and honey and eternal spring. In this age men did not steal or quarrel, and had the gift of speech with animals. Sexuality was unknown and children were born from the earth, so there was no social structure and no demands. This may well have changed by means of the union of Kronos’ son Eros with the mortal Psyche.

What is the meaning of Saturn in astrology?

Astrologically, Saturn is the planet of boundaries and limitations. The planet Saturn represented, from the beginning of time, the outermost boundary of the solar system. The discovery of Uranus, comparatively recently, was the first indication of other levels of consciousness.

In ancient times Saturn was considered a malefic, responsible for much of the misfortune which afflicts us. The modern interpretation sees him in a less threatening light, but he is still a symbol of loss and shortage. His role is to probe and test, to find and expose weakness. Structures we have made in our lives which are not solidly grounded will be pulled down under Saturn’s influence. Saturn has a strong association with authority and represents the limitations that our personal and social structures create.

Image credit Christina Balit

Last updated on August 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm. Word Count: 779