Saturn 1: Voyager image. Ultraviolet, violet and green filters, were combined to make this photograph.

Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Amit Bararia | The News Minute | October 29, 2014 | 3.23 pm IST Every 30 years or so, Saturn makes a full round of the twelve signs of the zodiac. He transits each sign over about two plus years. On 2nd November he leaves Libra where he is believed to be in exaltation and passes into Scorpio, a place he doesn’t specially enjoy. His transits are supposed to signify major shifts in the lives of all humanity. But all that is not in the scope of the thoughts that follow, which are just another attempt to catch another profile of the same old devil. He is cold, dark and distant. He is forbidding, unkindly and mirthless. Astrologers, visionless and doctrinaire, call planet Saturn ‘Paap Graha’, the harbinger of misfortune. But here we are not about to discuss astrology in and of itself. We are attempting to understand a very slippery and elusive entity which is known as Saturn. To keep this simple, let’s just say we are trying to invoke Saturn as an ‘archetype’. (‘Attempting to’ or ‘trying to’ are appropriate use of phraseology where Saturn is concerned, as he is not inclined to be easily garnered). In Jungian psychology, an archetype is "a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches. It is a primordial image, an innate and unlearned universal prototype and may be used to interpret observations in psychology. A group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a ‘complex’, e.g. a ‘mother complex’ associated with the ‘mother’ archetype.” Contrary to astrological teachings, Saturn is not dark or unkind. The truth is, he is singularly the most influential teacher amongst the pantheon of ‘archetypes’ who float in the cosmos overhead. Yes, he can be exceedingly harsh and unforgiving, but that is only because he has no patience with frivolity and fiddle-faddle. He is very concentrated and he means business. He is meticulous, a stickler for the nitty-gritty and he is exhaustive. He teaches rules of the framework of every human endeavour and he shows us networks and interrelations of every aspect of it. Saturn is all about structuring, or rather restructuring. When it is his time, it is always a time when some area of one’s life is in dire need for close scrutiny and correction. Traditional astrology teaches, wherever Saturn is found, he destroys that place. Well, not quite. How severe he’s going to be really depends on how well we take to his teachings. For restructuring to happen, old and incessant patterns must first be dissolved. Such patterns are almost always deeply embedded in states of delusion and denial. Where we fail in self-correction, enters Saturn. The ‘violence’ he inflicts to wrest us from the mire of old habits, is in the nature of ‘whatever it takes’.  Saturn may constrict and restrict. He can be solitude, isolation and loneliness. He may play with our fears and insecurities. He forces us to live in the seclusion of the present. He makes us aware of our limitations. He becomes a blunt mirror so that we see ourselves clearly and not what we want to see. He makes us accountable for wherever we are at any point. And if we still insist on passing guilt on others for the state we are in, Saturn will not let-up. If we persist with feeling misery and self-pity rather than engage in self-scrutiny, well it’s a personal matter. Saturn has nothing to do with that. He will just continue to grind some more till his work is done. And his work is really done when a point is reached when boorish obtuseness will never dare to trap us in its confusion again.   Heat emitted from the interior of Saturn (red) shows up in this false-colour image of Saturn, made from data taken in 2008 by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer. NASA. Saturn’s agenda goes to the heart of the matter with no haziness. He just wants us to work really hard. He demands that we channel our vitalities into meaningful and real-world missions. He teaches us how we can recognise our capacities for the reason that there is freedom in knowing our limitations, so we may reach our own inner strengths and become self-reliant. That is to say, he tells us we couldn’t get very far if we didn't believe in ourselves. But should we construe from the above that Saturn is really quite dour, grim and yes, saturnine? No, not at all so. Can an entity which sounds as cold and dry as all that, play an essential role in human endeavours such as art? Can we even dare to think of Saturn as someone who nurtures love itself? Of course we can. Who would believe that Saturn may singularly be the shining light of, say music? This is easy to bear if we understand that he alone has put in a lifetime’s grind of tedium and toil to learn to discern the purity of the perfect musical note. Only his ears know exactly where its sweet spot lies. He alone deals with the structure and syntax of a Symphony or a Raga. Venus must refer to his teachings before suffusing her creativity with beauty and loveliness. Jupiter lends his expansiveness to that creation, the Moon her breathtaking unexpectedness. But neither would know how, without first knowing what Saturn has already learnt. The same is true of the force and intensity of Mars, and the sprightly sparkle of Mercury. Between them they hold the stuff of which magnificent music is created. Yet they too must first look to Saturn to reveal every imperceptible space of that music. Yes indeed, this is the same Saturn we have been told to fear. Move on to love: To lovers, the desire and the yearning to love and to be loved is all Venus. That love has awakened is the inner consciousness of the Sun. The limitlessness and optimism of love are given by Jupiter. The burning fervour and passion in body and heart come from Mars. The delectable moodiness of love is Moon herself. How love itself is communicated through sign or exchanged glance is Mercury. And finally the binding agent who holds it all together is Saturn. Because he alone, of all the celebrities named above, is truly principled in that his concerns have to do with maintaining societal structures. Like Karma’s bookkeeper, he alone stands for the morality and ethics of loving. Ethics and rectitude are also functions of restraint and restriction. So does Saturn really come across as an archaic moraliser who is ‘not quite with it’? Imagine just how doomed and tattered all our relationships, intimate or wider, would be without these virtues of Saturn. And so, it’s no wonder when in 1980-81 NASA’s Voyager swung by Saturn, far and distant at 1.2 billion kilometres away from us, humanity for the first time encountered his utter magnificence and beauty. Far from the austerity and gravitas suggested by his mundane archetype, he revealed himself as an entity of astounding splendour, grandeur and majesty.
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