The Psychological Meaning of Saturn
Saturn represents all that stabilizes, defines and makes secure the character and the extent of an individual's activity in society. Saturn also, in a psychological type of astrology, represents the ego. The ego is nothing mysterious; it is the shape which the consciousness of the child assumes as this child relates himself to the multitude of factors which constitute his outer life; that is, his life in relation to all that affects his body and his activity among other children — or even adults — whom he considers more or less as basically his equals (this is a very important point, psychologically speaking, in view of the recent change in the character of the family relationship).
The "outer life" is a conscious life; whereas the interior psychic life of which I spoke above is largely, often entirely unconscious. In the outer life one basic drive operates: the drive for security. Thus Saturn has been linked by modern astrologers with the desire for security. Spurred by this desire, the ego tries to build the kind of personality which will achieve recognition and some degree of prestige in the community and "community" means, for the child, his siblings and comrades, and later on perhaps his neighborhood, his group. The ego seeks by all possible means to achieve a permanent status within his "group"; nay more, a guaranteed position. The ego wants the group to guarantee him implicitly — if not verbally or in writing — that other members of the group will not encroach on what he considers his own self and his possessions.
Such a guarantee begins when the baby hears himself called by a definite "name" — Peter or Jane. He is Peter or Jane. No one must dispute this fact. Later on, no one must use his signature on a check, or his Social Security card, or any of the socially recognized symbols which certify that he is and he alone is what he regards himself to be. If, however, this guaranteed recognition of his name, place and position among the other persons constituting his group, community or nation is seriously attacked and undermined — or seems to him to be undermined — the child or adolescent (and later on, the adult individual or the nation as a whole) feels insecure. Anxiety and fear develop and the very structure of his conscious being becomes loose. He may even be uncertain of his own identity — and his own character — which is what happens in extreme form in a concentration camp during "brain washing" or torture.
In early years, the child develops his sense of ego and security by identifying himself with the parent of the same sex. The boy's father guarantees to the boy his security, as long as the father's example is such as to give to the boy a sense of safety and social prestige ("My father can beat your father", says the little boy to his comrade). Likewise the girl's mother teaches the little girl how to be efficient at home, how to cook, how to dress, and so on. This makes the girl feel secure, provided this maternal example is consistent, gives satisfactory results, and also seems to be appreciated by the mothers of the girl's playmates. If, on the contrary, the child sees his or her parents humiliated, or badly treated, the sense of security may vanish. It is also impaired if the mother repeatedly makes her daughter feel inferior ("Oh, leave this alone! You can't do anything right"), or if the father calls his boy a "sissy" when he is afraid.
It is well-known that children grow by imitating their parent's behavior; but it is particularly the behavior of the parent of the same sex that matters in the development of the ego and of the sense of security, for here we are dealing with the outer life, and outer life is normally defined, at root, by sex. Trouble begins when the girl tries to imitate the behavior patterns of her father. This usually occurs because the father has been unable to "feed" the interior psychic life of his daughter, has shown no interest in her, and the girl is thus driven (by an inner psychic emptiness) to capture at all cost her father's attention — particularly by becoming a "chum" to him in a boyish manner, thus losing some of the basic natural characteristics of the feminine ego type.
All this refers, in astrology, mainly, to the Saturn function. A retrograde Saturn at birth usually indicates a relatively ineffectual father-child relationship. The child feels relatively insecure. The boy finds himself without an adequate or significant father example to follow in his outer life; he tends therefore to develop a sense of inferiority, for which he may compensate by aggressiveness and boisterousness. Likewise, the girl without an adequate or respected mother, or the girl who feels herself "repudiated" by the mother, either seeks to revenge herself by imitating the worst traits of the mother or by rushing into situations which she knows will hurt the mother, or else she freezes emotionally while seeking solace in pseudo-intellectuality.
Here, of course, one must consider also the position of and the aspects made by the Moon in the birth-chart, for Saturn and the Moon constitute a pair, just as Jupiter and Mercury do. Saturn and Jupiter are the positive factors; the Moon and Mercury deal with the management of the forces released, respectively, by Saturn and Jupiter. The Moon, as the capacity for adaptation to the challenges of everyday living, works out and substantiates what Saturn sets in motion. Mercury, as the power of memory and of association of ideas, provides the mental substance and energy necessary to utilize the basic sense of inter-human, inter-personal and social relatedness which Jupiter represents.
The wholesome and balanced development of personality requires a harmonious combination of the Saturn function and the Jupiter function. The Saturnian need for security should be integrated with the Jupiterian need for a deep psychic sharing with those human beings who, because they are outwardly different from us, help us develop the latent capacities of our nature.
The Jupiterian need arises in a purely unconscious manner when the baby's consciousness begins to grasp the outer world, and thus to experience "differentiated" and ego-centric responses to outer events causing pleasure or pain. As this happens the body gradually imposes more and more upon the psychic behavior patterns and responses which are unconsciously conditioned by the child's sex. This reacts upon the counter-sexual elements in the psyche which would otherwise retire to even more interior levels of subconsciousness if they did not find stimulation in, and could not "imitate", similar elements which the physical presence and magnetic emanations of the parent of the opposite sex reveal objectively.
When either this outer drive for security, or this arousal of the imagination in the inner psychic nature is frustrated, confused or perverted, serious psychological harm is done. The growing personality either reacts to this harm by developing aggressiveness, bitterness and emotional twists or perversions; or else it more or less collapses, resentful, insecure and psychically empty or filled with unhealthy imaginings. When harsh, relentless pressures or fears impress themselves sharply upon the collective mentality of a nation — when insecurity and despair are transmitted from one generation to the next in a widespread contagion of unrelatedness — when the "images" produced by restless, twisted ghost-haunted minds fill the intellectual atmosphere of an entire culture, then a wholesale perversion of social and spiritual values is inevitable. Then, even the so-called "benefic" aspects of Jupiter and Saturn fail to stop the race toward the abyss — unless greater powers intervene.
They may intervene. The impact of the constructive phases in the cycles of larger planets — for instance, and above all today, the very long-lasting sextile aspect of Neptune and Pluto — may lift up and repolarize the collapsing energies of the smaller cycles. It may give a new impulse to the Jupiter and Saturn functions at the psychological and social levels. The relationship of parents to children may acquire a new meaning, as the old taboos of obsolete morality and parental authoritarianism fade away. A new type of family may emerge in a transformed society. Children once more may feel secure with a new, more mature security, and the images they build in their inner life may radiate new spiritual health and true creative fantasy. They will radiate these spiritual blessings more richly than in past eras to the degree to which the experience of the tragic decades which humanity has known have been transmuted to release, in clear consciousness, a harvest of significance and of compassion.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill.
Copyright © 1971 by Dane Rudhyar.
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