Ah, Saturday. Day of delights. Respite from the working week, packed with all manner of fun, ranging from morning cartoons to evening revelry. Odd, then, to stop and realize that Saturday has a lot to do with quite the opposite of unfettered fun…
Saturday, as you may know, derives its name from the great, ringed planet Saturn:
There’s actually kind of a “naming chain” going on here, though. Saturn the planet takes its own name from Saturn, a Roman god. That Roman god Saturn, is in turn based largely on the more-or-less equivalent Greek god, Cronus (this point could support an entire textbook, and I’m about to oversimplify, but in many ways, the Romans sort of adopted the Greeks’ body of mythology wholesale, changed the names of the players, and presto: Roman mythos!). Saturday morning cartoons or no, Cronus is not a cheery figure in any way, and some of his more austere aspects lend themselves to interpretations of the way that the planet Saturn is viewed in occult thought…
Here’s a quick primer on Cronus:
Back near the dawn of time in the Greek sphere, the young Earth-Goddess, Gaia, looked up at the young Sky-God, Uranus, and both were instantly smitten. After a torrid, whirlwind courtship, the two deities produced offspring: the beautiful young godlings known as the Titans (of whom Cronus was the youngest but mightiest), and the — in Uranus’ view — far less beautiful beings known as the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires. The former were huge, one-eyed creatures, and the latter were equally gargantuan fellows who had fifty heads and one hundred arms each (guaranteeing cataclysmic frustration for most artists who take it upon themselves to attempt to draw them…). Feeling some rather unfatherly loathing for his non-Titan offspring, Uranus cast the Cyclopes and Hecatonchires down into the depths of the earth, to languish in unhappy incarceration there indefinitely, and with total disregard for the pleas of Gaia, who loved all her offspring dearly and equally, regardless of their outward appearances.
Eventually poor, dismayed Gaia, rebuffed one too many times by Uranus on the matter, prevailed upon her Titan children to rise up against their father, and to free their imprisoned siblings. Only Cronus was brave enough to agree to assume this task (although hindsight would kind of tip the scales toward the assumption that he might have been acting primarily out of a self-aggrandizing quest for power and fame rather than from any desire to soothe his mother or free his more brutish siblings). Armed with a sickle, though, Cronus fell upon his father, castrating Uranus, and sending him fleeing from any further position of power in the Greek mythos.
Gaia’s satisfaction was short-lived here, however, as Cronus refused to release the Cyclopes and the Hecatonchires, preferring to focus instead on his new rule. And to make matters worse (from Gaia’s perspective), Cronus had it on prophetic authority that just as he himself had overthrown his own father, so, too, would one of his children likewise rise up to overthrow Cronus. The new king of existence hit upon a solution: anytime his Titaness wife, Rhea, gave birth to a child, he would compel her to bring the newborn to him, at which time he would swallow it whole…
So to quickly wrap up the tale, fast-forward a few births and devourings, and Rhea tricks Cronus by spiriting away her latest production, the unprecedentedly mighty young god, Zeus, and slipping Cronus a rock swaddled in blankets to gulp down instead. Cronus, his attention apparently not wholly occupied by the horrible task of swallowing his own newborn kin, falls for the ruse, and downs the blanket-covered stone. Zeus grows quickly to maturity, and while he frees the Cyclopes and Hecatonchires — who are only too happy to fight for him against their traitorous brother — Rhea again dupes Cronus, hoodwinking him into drinking an emetic potion that causes him to barf up all of his children swallowed to date (and those children, being immortal, were not dead in his belly, but only supremely uncomfortable). This consortium of young gods and behemoth-like proto-deities succeeds in toppling the Titan regime, and Zeus and his people go on to preside over a long, long age as the Olympian pantheon we now know so well.
The point, though, is that our happy-go-lucky day of Saturday actually traces its name back to old sickle-wielding, father-castrating, mother-spurning, child-swallowing Cronus.
But, a question: is Cronus necessarily something best not considered? Or were those ancients who named this particular day of the week really on to something in highlighting Cronus as someone/something for us to always keep in mind?
In Astrology, the planet Saturn — and please remember that “planets” to an astrologer are not quite the same thing that “planets” are to an astronomer — is associated with our needs to deal with things like limitations, restrictions, self-discipline, and structure. There is some division among astrologers as to what gravity to attribute to the later-discovered outer planets (i.e., Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto), but all agree that Saturn is a crucial part of the astrological mix, and that assessing a person via astrological analysis simply couldn’t be done without considering good old Saturn. And honestly, our universe does impose limits and restrictions upon us, and we do need to cultivate self-discipline in order to thrive, and we do require some structure in our lives so that we might advance. Too little structure leads to too much uncertainty. There’s an old joke about how it’s exhausting to do nothing, because you never know when you’re finished, and you can’t stop to rest (because then you’d be doing something)…and there’s some truth to that.
Saturn is the taskmaster that we need, the pitiless coach and drill-sergeant who bullies and berates us into giving the best performances of our lives. Saturn doesn’t care if we like him…so long as we damn well excel at whatever it is we’re doing.
So maybe take a moment today — Saturday/Saturn-Day! — to consider the presence of Saturn in your life, to ponder his influence, and to contemplate how you can maybe harness it to greatest benefit…
And that’s me, wishing you all a Structured Saturday, everyone!