This year, both I and my husband turn 28. It helps that we’re only born, like, six weeks apart, so our natal charts aren’t too dramatically different from each other’s, at least for the slower-moving planets out there. This is especially the case for Saturn, which we both have in Sagittarius and dignified by both face and term. It’s a weird place for Saturn to be, but it’s not a terrible spot for either of us. This is a good thing, as we’re ramping up to face our first Saturn return together at pretty much the same time, which is awesome and awful.
What is a Saturn return? Roughly every 30 years (29 years, 5 months, 15 days to be exact), Saturn returns to the same place it was when you were born. As Saturn gets closer and closer to this position, people start feeling these effects a little early, some as early as 27. The effects tend to drop off soon after the return is made exact, so the range for feeling the effects of this first Saturn return transit usually goes roughly from when you’re 28 to 31, or three years. The second time happens from ages 56 through 59, and the third from 84 through 87. Some very few people ever get to experience a fourth Saturn return, but that’s neither here nor there. Unlike other planetary returns, Saturn returns are most notable as being fundamental shifts from one stage to another in a person’s life: the first Saturn return marks either the midlife crisis or one’s final ascension into adulthood, the second return one’s passage into senescence, and the third return one’s preparation for death. In general, how one adapts and responds to one’s return lays out how well or poorly one’s life will go through the next return.
So what is it like during a Saturn return? Essentially, Saturn becomes the dominant theme of your life, and its energy and power suffuses every day of the transit. Think: Saturn is the planet of final cosmic justice, restriction, obligation, limitation, scarcity, famine, depression, poverty, disease, and darkness. By the same token, however, think about the idea of the thick cell wall of prisons or monasteries: sure, they keep one isolated and trapped, but by the same token, they also keep one safe and sound from anything going on outside. Saturn shows us our limits, where those limits are to be obeyed without question, and where those limits can be pushed back or knocked down. Saturn is a planet of atrophy, but it is also one of soundness; one might be thinner, but one becomes stronger in the process. Saturn returns force us to confront ourselves and our own blown-up ideas of ourselves, and deflates us down to a shriveled, wrinkled mess. In the process of everything we think we are and everything we think we need being taken away from us, however, we find out what it is we’re truly made of and what we truly need to survive on. Once we know the bare minimum of what we can do and what we can survive on, we can build ourselves up once more in a proper way to truly come into our own. Saturn return is a time of refinement through intense trial that we cannot escape or delay. Jobs we think we love get taken away from us, lovers we think we can’t live without leave us, homes we think we will own for the rest of our days get burned down or sold from under our feet. If you’ve ever asked for “take away everything that hinders me and holds me back”, Saturn return does this in fucking spades. No need to do a cut-and-clean spell if you don’t want to; if you just wait long enough, the cosmic clockwork of the solar system will make it clear that it’ll happen one way or another. Saturn is the cosmic judge who takes stock of everything you are and everything you do, and when Saturn comes home, he is going to clean house.
So, faced with this insurmountable trial of fate and gravity, how do I plan on surviving these next few years? Most people become assholes and fight against it, or depressed and mope about it lamenting their inevitable fate that happens to each and every one of us. Those are awful ways, and not what I consider to be the easy and proper way: by welcoming it, embracing it, and giving respect and honor where they’re due by setting up a shrine to regularly confront and propitiate the forces, energies, entities, and god of Saturn. By working with the forces of Saturn, we can better integrate them into our lives, accepting the trials that come to us easier and forewarned that they will happen, acknowledging our pain and actively reaching for our own refinement, treating this as a time of tough cosmic love rather than cruel hellish fate.
With that in mind, let’s do a brief bit of some Liber 777-type research on Saturn. For the sake of expanding our symbol set and connecting the dots together, what’re some of the attributes we can find about this planet in the Western magical literature?
- Names in classical languages:
- Latin: SATVRNVS
- Greek: Κρονος (Kronos, the god/spirit of the planet), Φαινων (Phainōn, the titan/body of the planet)
- Hebrew: שבתאי (Shabbathai)
- Arabic: زُحَل (Zuḥal)
- Persian: کیوان (Keyvan)
- Sanskrit: शनि (Śani)
- Egyptian: (Ḥeru-ka-pet, also known as Horus the Bull)
- Sumerian: (Genna)
- Babylonian: (Kayyamaanu, written as UDU.IDIM.SAG.UŠ or as above in Sumerian)
- Chinese: 土星 (Mandarin Tǔxīng, Cantonese tou2 sing1, Middle Chinese /tʰuoX seŋ/, Japanese dosei, Korean toseong)
- Spirits and entities associated with it:
- Angelic governor: צפקיאל (Tzaphqiel), often rendered into Latin as variants on the name Cassiel
- Picatrix angel: Isbil (Arabic original), Heylil (Latin translation)
- Olympic spirit: Aratron
- Planetary intelligence: אגיאל (Agiel)
- Planetary spirit: זאזל (Zazel)
- Agrippa: אראלים (Aralim)
- Pseudo-Dionysus: Thrones
- Zodiacal angels:
- הנאל (Hanael, angel of Capricorn)
- כאמביאל (Cambiel, angel of Aquarius)
- King of the Jinn:
- Name: ميمون (Maymon, the Auspicious One)
- Nickname: ابا نوخ (Abba Nuh̬, the Father of Rest)
- Heptameron Spirits:
- Angel: Cassiel
- Angel of the Air: Maymon Rex
- Ministers: Abumalith, Assaibi, Balidet
- Wind: Africus (southwest)
- Lemegeton Goetic Rank: Knight (only one spirit of this rank, Furcas)
- Deities associated with Saturn:
- Sumerian: Ninurta, Ninmah
- Babylonian: Adar, Nintu, Tiamat
- Persian: Zurvan
- Phoenician: Asherah
- Egyptian: Sobek
- Gnostic: Yaldabaoth
- Greek: Kronos
- Roman: Saturnus, Lua
- Etruscan: Vetis, Veiovis
- Hindu: Śaniścara
- Qabbalistic correspondences:
- Numbers: 3, 15, 45
- Shape: Triangle
- Sephirah: Binah
- Sephirothic colors: Crimson, black, dark brown, grey flecked pink
- Path: #32 (the World, connecting Yesod-Malkuth or Moon-Earth)
- Path colors: Indigo, black, blue-black, black rayed blue
- Godname: יהוה אלוהים (YHVH Elohim)
- Hebrew letter: ת (Tav, 400)
- Greek letter: Ω (Ōmega, 800)
- Weekday: Saturday
- Zodiac signs:
- Domiciles: Capricorn, Aquarius
- Exaltation: Libra
- Geomantic figures: Carcer, Tristitia, Cauda Draconis
- Religious concepts:
- Deadly Sin: avarice/greed
- Heavenly Virtue: generosity
- Hermetic Virtue: silence
- Hermetic Vision: The Vision of Sorrow
- Apostles: Simon the Zealot (Capricorn), Jude (Aquarius)
- Prophets: Enoch, Samuel, Nahum (Capricorn), Habakkuk (Aquarius)
- Judges: Elon (Capricorn), Abdon (Aquarius)
- Theological Figure: The Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene
- Weekday archangel: Selaphiel or Sealtiel, the angel of prayer to God and who presides over the priesthood
- Psalms for Pentacles (KJV): 72:8-9, 109:18, 18:7
- Materials and substances:
- Metals: lead, black iron, pyrite
- Stones: onyx, sapphire, brown jasper, chalcedony, lodestone, sulphur, antimony, jet, turquoise, magnesium, all dark and weighty and earthy minerals
- Plants: white daffodil, asphodel, dragonwort, rue, cumin, hellebore, benzoin, mandrake, cyprus, opium, pine, cypress, black fig, hemlock, yew, myrrh, sesame, aconite, cactus, cocoa, datura, spurge, fennel, male fern, lichen, mos, lungwort, soapwort, weeping willow, tobacco, pomegranate, ivy, orchis root, thistle, coconut, ramthorn, spikenard, galbanum, asafoetida, euphorbium, colophony, stammonia, rhubarb,
- Animals: ape, cat, hog, mule, camel, bear, mole, donkey, wolf, hare, mole, dragon, basilisk, toad, serpents, scorpions, ants, mice, vermin, cranes, ostriches, peacocks, screech-owl, horned owl, bat, lapwing, crow, quail, eel, lamprey, dog-fish, tortoise, oysters, cockles, sea sponges, cuttlefish
- Parts of the body: skin, bones, spleen, knees, lower legs, right foot, right ear, right eye, left hand, excretory system, mouth, intestines, bladder, genitals
- Other organic substances: soma, civet, musk
And, to top it off, a gallery of various Saturn-related seals, sigils, symbols, and signs from all the stuff collected across my blog:
With that said, I now present to you how we combined so much of all of the above into our household’s Shrine to Lord Saturn.
The primary color of the shrine is black (the primary/Queen color of the planet) accented by crimson (the secondary/King color), accented by a pale Solar gold. Within the shrine is a particularly pretty (to my mind) metallic print of Saturn eclipsing and illuminated by the Sun. Surrounded by a the fabric canopy and lengths of chain is a custom talismanic art I made that concentrates the images and seals of Saturn together in a coherent way. This artwork combines, again, all of the symbols, seals, sigils, numbers, names, spirits, intelligences, angels, and characters of Saturn together, with very subtle nods to the zodiac signs Capricorn and Aquarius (the domiciles of Saturn), Libra (its exaltation), and Sagittarius (where my and my husband’s natal Saturns are) and Aries (our housemate’s natal Saturn). Additionally, there are three written statements on there: the Sanskrit mantra to Lord Shani, a Greek invocation to Phainōn and Kronos, and a Latin invocation to Saturnus:
- Sanskrit: ॐ शं शनैश्चराय नमः (Om Śaṃ Śanaiścaraya Namah, “Hail to the great name of Shani”)
- Greek: ΙΩ ΦΑΙΝΩΝ ΙΩ ΚΡΟΝΕ ΙΩ (“Hail, Phainon! Hail, Kronos! Hail!”)
- Latin: IAVE SATVRNE MAXIME NITIDE SEVERE IA (“Hail, great, bright, grave Saturn, hail!”)
I had originally planned to do this in stark black and white, but I opted instead to use a blend of silver, gold, white, and a few basic colors to suit the characters or needs. All told, this painting forms a sort of all-around “map” to the powers and resonances of Saturn.
The focal point of the shrine table is the oil lamp in the middle. In Indian astrology, devotees of Lord Shani burn sesame oil in honor of the god, so I figured I can incorporate the same. I got a traditional ceramic oil lamp glazed in dark brown and dark blue, both colors associated with Saturn, and filled it with cooking-grade sesame oil mixed with three drops of myrrh essential oil. Here I’m using a simple cotton thread wick, but normally I’d use a linen strip or a cotton ball, rolled out flat, pressed into a thicker cloth-like sheet, written upon with sacred symbols of Saturn in consecrated ink, and twisted back lengthwise into a wick. I placed the lamp on a wooden placard I made that has the symbol of Saturn in the middle of a large hexagram, surrounded by the symbols of the other six planets in each of the triangular wings of the hexagram. Around the symbol of Saturn in its central hexagon, and on the outside of each of the triangles, I inscribed the characters of the seven planets from Agrippa (book I, chapter 33) and wrote around the whole thing the name Κρονος in Greek. Each of the planetary symbols are colored in the usual planetary color, as are their characters. The word Κρονος, the symbol and characters of Saturn are all filled in silver, while the surrounding circle and the hexagram itself are all filled in gold. Everywhere else on the placard is covered in black. I also added on the name of God “Elohim” written in ancient Phoenician script around the edge, split into six characters and colored for the six non-Saturn planets. On the underside is the name IHVH, again written in Phoenician and colored in gold, around the edge, surrounding a 3 × 3 grid. I originally was going to have the nine numbers of Saturn etched in here, but my woodburner failed me for good; what I plan to do is draw in a word-sigil on the qamea of Saturn to tune our rituals to a specific need, such as “stability” in times of chaos or “wisdom” when preparing for a ritual.
The reason why I made this planetarily all-inclusive placard, instead of one that just focused on Saturn, is that this would be used for a household shrine for both my use and that of my husband and our housemate. While I’ve done the Work necessary to simply launch deeply into a planetary energy and come out unscathed, my husband and our housemate haven’t, and even though respecting and honoring Saturn would be good for all of us, there is a notable risk for them to be overloaded by Saturnine energies that could easily overwhelm and devour them. To that end, I decided to balance out the light of Saturn that we would shine in our house by making a kind of planet-specific Table of Practice that would act to balance out and harmonize all the planets, focusing and building up to Saturn. Thus, we first light six small candles, one on each of the triangles around the placard, and briefly invoke each planet before lighting the oil lamp for Saturn in the middle, which precedes the rest of our usual offering.
In addition to the crafts above, I also have a three-footed iron censer for burning incense, usually myrrh, placed atop an old Saturn magic square I made, woodburned and painted in gold and black, to the right of the lamp. I’ve also incorporated and enshrined, in an unseen way not visible from the pictures above, the powerful Saturn talisman I made back in 2011 (almost five years ago to the day, holy crap!). All this combined, we have a simple yet elegant Saturn shrine that, from the get-go, already brims with dark stellar power. Over time, we will probably add more talismans, charms, statues, or pieces of Saturnine art, but this is good for now.
We present small glasses of offerings to Saturn: one of pure water, and three small bowls of a dry offering mix made from rock salt, black rice, black gram, and black mustard seeds. We place these to the left of the oil lamp placard, while we burn incense in the censer. We then take some time to recite the Orphic Hymn to Saturn (hymn #12), or, if we’re feeling more adventurous, the Picatrix Invocation to Saturn (book III chapter 7, one version as used here for my Saturn talisman consecration). Alternatively, we might use the Heptameron Conjuration for Saturday or the equivalent from the Munich Manual (see this page) for a more directed purpose rather than a general laudation of Saturn, or we might just be cool and intone the vowel ōmega and offer a more personal prayer to Saturn. We do this all every Saturday during one of the daytime hours of Saturn, if possible, usually the midday hour, as that’s the time we’re all most likely to do this together. Barring that, due to scheduling or whatnot, we might do our own thing with a smaller offering. We let the candles burn out on their own, and we let the oil lamp burning for at least as long or until it starts to sputter. We let our offerings sit for a whole week, and then clean off the shrine before we make offerings the next Saturday. We each clean off with our bowl of dry offerings, pour it into the water, and dump the whole thing out into the road.
Besides all these offerings we plan to make weekly and regularly, there’s so much else we can do to honor Saturn in our lives. Saturn rules over all disabled people, especially those who are crippled, diseased, or handicapped in some way, as well as vagrants, the homeless, and in low social stations and in menial jobs. Working for their sake, paying them respect, and making donations (especially in groups of three or in amounts of multiples of three) is a good way to get on Saturn’s good side, as well as making fasts in his honor. It goes without saying that respecting Saturn in our daily lives is also of paramount importance, including not saying disrespectful or joking things about the god. We still plan to be realistic about his awful, detrimental effects, but we’re not going to blow them out of proportion; Saturn is, after all, the planet of perspective. Saturn, given the day of Saturday, is also associated with Shabbat and the Jews; observing a set of shabbat-like restrictions regularly is also a way to show one’s devotion to the planet and its spirits.
I’m honestly pleased I was able to set this shrine up, and I’m very happy with how it all turned out. At the first invocation, I felt that usual Saturnine heaviness seeping into my bones, like wearing multiple heavy Siberian winter coats without the heat, but this time it lingered on the back of my neck and around my ears. It’s good to finally give Saturn the respect he deserves and has deserved in my life; truly, Saturn now lives in our home, though I specified that this shrine would be set up for three years, with only the possibility of it remaining up longer. We’ve enshrined Saturn to help facilitate the integration of his energies into our lives during our Saturn return periods, so that Saturn helps us and does not hurt us, so that Saturn gives us succor and not suffering. He’s still a heavy, grave, serious planet and a malefic no matter what, but he is just as able to give blessing as much as he can dole out curses. Here’s to hoping we only see his good side, with his bad eye turned and kept turned far away from us.
Do you worship or have a devotional arrangement with Saturn, in any of his incarnations among the world’s religions? How do you pay your respects to the planet or the spirits associated with it?