The satyr, a mythological creature, half man-half goat, is one image used for Saturn. This playful image was made grotesque and malefic by Christian authorities as they tried to pry paganism from its ancestral roots. The images of the satyr and Saturn have not been the same since.
Pan was a satyr, like Mr. Tumnis in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. Our knowledge of Pan and his rituals come down to us through the slander done to paganism: debauchery, cunning, a Pan pipe (reed flute) and sex. But the image offered by C. S. Lewis of a cautious, appropriate minimalist might be truer to a satyr’s nature and help us understand more about Saturn.
Satyrs are of the earth; they are likened to the elves: knowing the earth in its magic and beauty. When in ritual, they sing, dance to creation, play music and frolic. Yet satyrs are serious creatures most of the time, giving themselves to lightness only during festival. They work tirelessly to accomplish a task, often without notice. Their goat nature is able to sustain itself on little.
All ancient cultures had deities or demigods whose role was to ensure the fertility of the land, to breathe into the plant kingdom and make it grow at planting season. In gratitude, the harvest celebration would include these beings. Satyrs understand the earth, especially the plant and mineral kingdoms, the seasons and cycles.
Pan is such a demigod. Ceres is a goddess of the earth from the same culture, and Kokopelli is one from the Southwestern Native tradition. Pan and Kokopelli are similar in that neither is human. Pan is half man and Kokopelli is a spirit-being usually only seen in shadow form. Ceres is a goddess, human-divine. This tells us something important: that male creative energy has not manifested a completely revealed form yet.
Presentations of feminine creative energy abound, many are beautiful, wise, powerful, and completely whole within themselves. They do not need male energy because they abide in the true power of creation itself. They have become the creators, the wisdom of the earth, and the great mothers. This cannot be said of male creative energy. All male presentations, except possibly the Buddhas and Krishna, display significant dominance and anger. Thus the satyr, as a half and half creature, represents how male creative energy must veil itself to itself. Male creative energy has not found harmony within. Is this the source of anger and jealousy expressed by so many male demigods? For example, Saturn/Chronos ate his children as they were birthed, jealous of his seed and their power. Half and half is symbolic of an unresolved inner-psychic condition.
Dual beings in astrology
At first glance there are two signs out of twelve that are mystically dual in nature: Sagittarius the centaur (half horse/half man) and its polar opposite Gemini, the twins. However, looking closely at the symbols of the signs, we find that all the mutable signs plus Capricorn have a half and half nature. Gemini begins the mutable cross. It is the twins, followed by Virgo, the mother and child. Sagittarius, the centaur horse-man is next then Pisces, the two fishes loosely bound together as they complete the mutable cross. In each case, except for Gemini, one cannot live without the other. In Virgo, the child in the womb or just birthed cannot live without the mother. In Sagittarius, we cannot chop the mythical animal in half and have it survive. The two fish of Pisces are psychically and psychologically Siamese twins; and as far as they know can never be separated. Only Gemini knows that it can stand alone from its other half. This suggests that all these signs are deeply rooted in duality. This suggests that there are two natures in one being, and that something significant is trying to speak through the symbology of half and half.
Capricorn the sea-goat is another mythically dual presentation. The power of the ocean and the stark majesty of the mountains are one way to read the sea-goat, the mythic symbol for Capricorn. Capricorn is a sign of power, sometimes used with such detachment as to be cold and devoid of emotion. Capricorn can be harsh, austere, regimented. It is often not in touch with its feelings, its watery nature. Thus, the first layer of the unresolved inner condition is seen; the satyr steps in for the sea-goat. The human half is the sensitive being having emotions and being sentient. The goat is capable, rugged, and aloof.
Saturn is the traditional or exoteric as well as the esoteric ruler of Capricorn. The two levels of rulership point us again in the direction of two natures, duality, and something seeking resolution from within. The satyr steps in again. The lower goat representing exoteric Saturn is the source of responsibility, groundedness, and practicality. Esoteric Saturn is represented by the human upper half and the power of creative masculine energy not yet revealed. The upper half plays the flute, sings, and dances but only when the act of creation is called for; otherwise the predictable, methodical, more serious nature of the goat is expressed.
Saturn rules Libra hierarchically which brings in youthful Aries, its the polar opposite. Aries IS the eternal youth. Aries is also a ram (male goat or sheep). This youthful quality comes through the satyr especially when involved in the rituals of creation, fertility of the earth, and the harvest. Then, like Shiva, the satyr dances with abundant energy until creation or its harvest is complete.
The demeaning of pagan festivals and spirit-beings related to the earth’s abundance and rhythms, stole the deep meaning from ancient rituals. We were left with a satirization at best, a demonization at worst. Satan with hooves and horns, stealing children in their sleep became the myth told by the Church, reminiscent of Saturn/Chronos eating his young. The ways of the earth, symbolized by the satyr’s nimble hooves, were ridiculed. The man-half of the satyr was turned into a debauched person, wanton and lustful, yet neither behavior belongs to the satyr or to Satyrn (Saturn).
Instead, like Kokopelli, Saturn’s purpose is to bring forth growth through right understanding of time, cycle, and work: a harmonious mixture of duty and joy. This harmony is part of the higher consciousness of Saturn. Harmony is right relation and the reason why Saturn rules Libra hierarchically, the hierarchical ruler being the most refined expression of the planet.
Satyr/Saturn dances at-one with the innate rhythms of creation itself. Higher Saturn reveals the laws of creation that these happy steps belie. Saturn is Shiva dancing the world into existence, sometimes harsh, and exact. These, too, are Saturnian qualities.
The Satyr in one’s chart
With Saturn prominent in the natal chart, one will probably find two natures within oneself:
a) dutifulness, responsibility, and matter-of-factness
b) lover of the earth or its resources, keeper of time and seasons, delighting in the gifts of the earth.
Saturn’s prominence in one’s chart would include these placements:
- a luminary (sun or moon) in a sign Saturn rules
- Saturn being the planet that a yod points to
- in a stellium or important conjunction
- on an angle
- in the first house
- in a house that Saturn naturally rules
- ruler of the chart
- in the sign of the Earth (always directly opposite the Sun)
- on the Ascendant in a tight orb.
Dutifulness and an innate sense of responsibility lead to doing things alone or preferring to do so. This is born of control and thinking that one is capable but not knowing factually if others are equally so. When Saturn is prominent in the chart and the personal nature there is often an inability to let go of control, to let others participate in their own way, or to just let something be as it is.
The other way a prominent Saturn can demonstrate in the life is through lack. Thus one side of our self or life will experience:
a) lack, not enough, scarcity
b) fear, doubt, questions about one’s self worth or value.
One side of the equation is fairly matter of fact; the other is the personal attitude that results.
Yet because Saturn is a satyr, not goat or man, but a combination of the two, the person with prominent Saturn has to come to an understanding that life is not either/or. It is a spectrum of experience.
Therefore the person with strong Saturn in the chart and personal nature is invited to ponder:
- The truth of one’s responsibility and all that one has put upon him or herself. Therefore, how does one become comfortable with letting go and letting others?
- There is never only lack. In what parts of one’s life is there plenty if not abundance? To what extent does one’s expectation of lack and scarcity create the same?
- An inner voice unto itself is not malefic. However, if all its comments are criticisms and harsh or harmful thoughts toward self and/or others, this is malefic and does not foster growth. One is to cultivate the inner voice of wisdom and patience, both Saturnian qualities.
Saturn’s higher nature is harmony depicted by the flute the satyr plays. Saturn’s highest nature is not ‘Old Man Time’ but the eternal youthfulness of dynamic male creative energy. Saturn is at-one with creation, this is why people with strong Saturn in the chart are usually manifestors. But to manifest the structure of something is not the same as giving it life. Saturn’s hidden nature is in the dance, the true ritual, not in habit or daily pattern.
People with strong Saturn in the chart are asked to choose a Saturnian pattern and find the highest turn of the spiral within it. Saturnian people are being asked to learn to dance.