Kamea, Sigil and Sign of Saturn
Here’s the Old Man. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been publishing the kamea, or magical squares, of the planets — you can find the squares of Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus so far. This week, we bring Saturn to the mix.
Saturn is the outermost planet of our Solar System known to the ancients. It’s visible with the naked eye, and to the Greeks and Romans it was the planet that ruled over time, endings, declines, limitations and boundaries, as well as agriculture, old age and death. Its planetary symbolism is of responsibility and consequences.
Saturn’s number is 3. Accordingly, the square of Saturn is 3x3, containing the nine numbers from 1-9 (or the hebrew letters that stand for 1-9, in a common protection charm). Each row, column and diagonal adds up to 15, while the square as a whole adds up to 45. The sigil resulting from working with Saturn appears as a pair of angles crossing over a diagonal line drawn between 2 and 8.
In Christian angelology, Saturn is associated with Tzaphkiel (sometimes spelled Cassiel, as in Dorothy Sayers’ play, The Zeal of Thy House, where Cassiel is the recording angel who notes down both the blessed and cursed deeds of humans). In Greek mythology, Saturn was the old god Cronos, who had once ruled the heavens before being supplanted by Jupiter. Now, old and decrepit and castrated, he wanders the lonely track at the edge of the visible solar system, counting out cycles of 29-30 years, marking time until The End.
Not the apocalyptic end, of course. Saturn is not about bringing the universe down. No, quite the opposite: Saturn reminds you that time marches on, in its slow way, and that you — YOU — have one or two, maybe three cycles of 30 years to work with; but not four, not five. IF you have stuff you want to get done, you should get that started. It’s going to take a good deal of effort for you to build anything up, and meanwhile Saturn is walking the slow outer track, beating everything down first to ruin, and then to rubble, and then to dust.
The old man, with his hourglass and scythe, with his skull and his crossed leg bones, and with his cloak of funereal black, has it in for you. Not in a personal way, you understand: this is just business. He’s just doing his job. Things die. Relationships end. Mistakes get made. That which is perfect has still got to be broken down and reduced to its component parts. As the Thomas Taylor Orphic Hymn to Saturn says, “Consumed by thee, all forms that hourly die, by thee restored, their former place supply; the world immense, in everlasting chains, strong and ineffable thy power contains.” What is broken now, is both the fuel and the raw components to what gets built next. What is whole now, will be broken down. And this…
This is normal.
It’s more than normal. It’s magical. It’s this decades-long cycle of change whereby things get worn out, damaged, broken down, and destroyed. It’s not something you can stop: powers as old or older than the gods, perhaps older than the cosmos, have set these forces in motion. Saturn is here to remind you that you have responsibilities, and duty, and that time is wasting — not in the sense of hanging around enjoying time, but in the sense of time laying waste to you, your house, your goods, your friends, your family, your city, your kingdom, your world. Nothing you build is going to last forever; it will be broken down and destroyed, and the pieces will be used to make whatever comes next. The sand is running out of your hourglass.
So. Make peace with that. Get used to the idea that you’re not going to live forever, and set your plans in order to achieve what you want to achieve in the meantime. Without war or disease or accident, you’ve got sixty or ninety years between the womb and the grave. You’ve got things to do, and time enough to do them. But it’s time to get to work.