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Friday, March 26, 2010

Archetypal Processes VIII: Saturn – CREDO CIV

Saturn’s concretization of the archetypal process is that of contraction and acts as a balance to Jupiter’s expansion. In the body, Saturn rules the skeleton and the skin, the former giving structure, the latter limits. For millennia, it was itself the limit to the solar system until the discovery of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto opened up the higher levels of the original group starting at the end of the eighteenth century.

If Jupiter is always shouting ‘yes!’ Saturn is warning ‘no’. His icon is the old man with the long white beard. The beard is repeated in every frozen waterfall or icicle. And, indeed, Saturn rules Capricorn, the tenth sign of the zodiac. So if a human life is symbolically associated with Aries, the first sign, it takes nine months to become manifest or incarnated. This explains the pagan festivals at the winter solstice (Dec. 21) and why the church fathers chose that period for the Incarnation of the baby Jesus at Christmas. Today we seem oblivious to how much astronomy, the basis of astrology, determines our daily life. If you think the gods are just history, just see how they live on in the days of our week! Hidden in all this is the rule of the octave, which, like the musical scale, renews another level of the cycle. I take up the symbolic import of each of the first nine numbers in my book The Web in the Sea.

In the popular image of Saturn’s grim reputation – death, cold, miser, pessimistic curmudgeon who suffers poverty, sickness, denial, etc. – we tend to ignore the gold hidden in the lead. Every snowflake is a miracle of beauty, and Scrooge is redeemed by love in the end! Saturn’s Greek name is Kronos, which is the root of chronological time. Old Father Time, the Grim Reaper, etc. But its place of exaltation is Libra, ruled by Venus. Aha! Think of how many stories are based on the softening of a crusty old geezer by a little boy or girl: Silas Marner, for one, Little Lord Fauntleroy, King Lear, A Christmas Carol. The secret of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is based on the alchemical challenge of changing lead to gold, or in psychological parlance turning challenging experience to a lesson learned the hard way. This, to me, explains the extraordinary humorous expression of Jung’s that when the devil takes off his mask, Christ is revealed behind it! And Goethe in his Faust has Mephistopheles, the devil, bemoaning the fact that every time he tries to do something bad, good seems to come out of it in the end! The hint is that the best way to learn something is “the hard way”! Ain’t that the truth!

The secret of the Solar Gold is Love! The old Piscean way of teaching children through guilt and sin and punishment, is being displaced mercifully by telling a child that he is naughty is simply to say “That’s a NO!” and the withdrawal of permission as “That’s not going to happen!” Parents take note of this and spare your kids a few complexes! Practice ad rem rather than ad hominem.

The process has been conflated in the names of Satan and Saturn, but satan is Hebrew and he was an archangel who fell from heaven because of his pride. The name means “adversary.” Saturn comes from Latin serere, meaning “sowing seed.” In addition, the familiar caricature of the devil as a creature with horns and a tail has its origin in the nature god Pan! Early Christianity thus dissuaded the pagans from worshipping nature, stressing this world was a sorry place. Even today the liturgy speaks of “renouncing the world and the devil.” The Catholic priest Matthew Fox was excommunicated for writing a book called Original Blessing: A Primer of Creation Spirituality. He then became an Episcopal priest and is renowned for teaching the sanctity of nature! There is also a lovely chapter on Pan in The Wind in the Willows, the children’s classic by Kenneth Grahame.

The Greek word pan means “all,” as in Pan-American or panic.

Psychologically, Saturn’s process is exemplified by gravity, a serious approach to life, and a lack of humor. The late great Jungian analyst Edward F. Edinger had Saturn conjunct his Ascendant, so his persona was indeed grave when one first met him, and he was a fountain of structured wisdom in his books. In the early ’70’s, his book Ego and Archetype came out and had such a powerful impact on me that I began to have dreams about him. I began to write to him. One of the funny dreams was that we were talking on the phone, but my phone was half a coconut and he said he was talking on the other half. To my surprise, my telephone rang and it was he, and he said, “Mrs. Howell, I think we must take the coconuts seriously. It is time we met.” We did, and I actually made him laugh, and the direction of my life was set for good. The coconut is hard, dark, and hairy on the outside but filled with white, nourishing sweetness on the inside! Saturn’s process in a dream! So, as you read this, take a moment to look back on your own life and see if good did not eventually result from what might have seemed calamitous at the time.

Jung, himself a Leo, had Saturn rising in Aquarius, giving his 23 volumes on psychology an enormous historic scope. Now, his The Red Book reveals the personal struggle and the vast artistic range and discipline that he had. The editor, Sonu Shamdasani, is a Capricorn(!) and his incredible scholarship, revealed in his copious footnotes, is staggering. He is a dear friend, and I was deeply touched when a reader informed me that one of those footnotes includes a reference to one of my books. It means so much to know that I am an atom in that masterpiece!

The psychological truth is that alchemy, concerned with the transformation of lead (Saturn) into gold (Sun), tells us that Love is imprisoned in experience, and that as we express love toward others and nature, the inner transformation takes place in us. Dame Kinde is the Old English for Mother Earth. To be kind is natur-al. His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, “My only religion is kindness.” When one meets him, as we did in Dharamsala, in India, he radiates the spiritual warmth of kindness.

The archetypal process, above all, deals with incarnation, the manifestation of the material world, which actually is illusionary and in constant atomic flux. Nevertheless, without time/space the ego would not have anything visible and tangible to work with. When Mars is exalted in Capricorn, the archetype is homo faber, man the maker, as in the gods Vulcan or Loki. If you think of the patron saints of this and that, you can see how the gods have become Christian! You cannot kill an archetype!

Now that I am ooooold, I am more and more aware of Saturn’s final touch approaching, I will not die; I will celebrate my Aberduffy Day, the gift of that dream I had and wrote about in my CREDO IX.


Saturn: The Wise GuySaturn: The Wise Guy

   “Beware, beware, beware!”
drones Saturn, but he means it.
   He's wearing his black and grey pinstriped overalls
today and his beard is yellowing.
   “Beware of righteousness!
Have you ever been deceived by an empty milk carton
that looked virgin, proud and full?
or broken into an empty egg — that old child's trick?
   Let me tell you something
the minute you think you have the last
brick, stitch, or word, I see a light on the computer over there.
   Then I know it's time overripe for the Undoing.
I may move slowly, dearie, but I never missed
         an Undoing yet.”
It's sort of my specialty, don't you know!
      He chuckles
tries to light a pipe but the match burns to its end
         as he talks.

   “Beware of judging !
There is a fence of rulers around my place
      each one labeled with a name.
I saw yours the other day. Yup, it's getting longer
   that's good. What's it for?
To measure you with your own measure
         at the end.
Oh, judging is the hardest thing to avoid!
      People do it all the time. I know.
That's why I don't touch it. Never. Never.
   I let folks do it for themselves.
      The judge is there all right
but the worst of it is he will be wearing
         your face!
   That's a terrible shock for most folk.
It gets 'em every time. Mebbe that's why it's called
   The Last Judgment.
      Nobody, I reckon, wants to try that twice!

   “Beware of forcing!
That always makes for a mess. You get mad
   stamp on a plank and it hits you.
      You steal and find yourself robbed of sleep.
You lie and end up trusting nobody. It don't pay.
   It's not just a matter of this Save-your-soul bit.
It's just playing it smart both ways. The way I see it
      virtue is enlightened self-interest.

“I'm thinking of putting up two big signs somewhere:
I could sign it Karma to show we're up to date
   around here.
      But folks won't go for this. No money in it.
All this buy now, pay later —
They could call it Stupidity-of-the-Day
   have a Stupidity-of-the-Month-Club
      With a Free Sin for a Bonus.
Now that might sell real good. "Save up for that nice trip
   to where it's WARM!" Get it?
      He rubbed his hands over that one.
Nah, that's too new-fangled.
   Here we have crime make its own punishment.

   “Switch that light on, will you. See each
      shadow fits the substance. Neat.
   Oh, it's all in the good books, all right.
We play fair around here. But nowadays folks think
   it's junk mail or advertising, I hear.
I'm not much of a reader myself.
   My specialty is the hard way, don't you know.

   “Beware, beware, beware!
drones Saturn, his rheumy eyes looking at me.
      he holds out his arms not unkindly.
   Come here, little girl, let me look at you.
You haven't understood one word, have you!
      Don't matter, you'll go your own way of course.
Only don't come running to me, hear?
   I'll only tell you I told you so”



Anonymous said...

Hello Alice!
I am so pleased to find your blog Credo and especially your poem on Saturn!
Thank you.
God Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Hello Alice
Thank you for your Credo; it is brilliant
God Bless you

Roslyn Ross said...

Well done again Alice. With Saturn conjunct my Sun, the archetype is my constant companion. Ros