“Those at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” —Unknown
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and second largest in the Solar System. Broad bands in the atmosphere mark Saturn’s hazy, yellowish color, and Saturn’s prominent rings provide a stunning telescope image. Titan, the largest of Saturn’s sixty-two known moons is bigger than Mercury and Pluto and is the most earth-like world discovered so far. Titan has a substantial, active atmosphere, and complex Earth-like processes shape its surface.
Saturn’s north pole has a startling hexagon-shaped feature that is unique among planets that have been observed. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft mission, a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency, has captured amazing images. The hexagon is a six-sided jet stream with 200-mile-per-hour winds that move in a massive rotating storm. The mysterious hexagon is 15,000 miles in diameter—four Earths could fit side by side. Images have revealed changes in the hexagon’s color that are thought to be an effect of Saturn’s seasons. The hexagon was first photographed by Voyager in 1980 but was not discovered until 1988 when scientists reviewed Voyager data. In 2006, Cassini-Huygens confirmed that the hexagon appears to be a permanent feature.
Saturn is a source of intense radio emissions that have been monitored by the Cassini spacecraft. The complex radio spectrum has rising and falling tones that are closely related to the auroras near Saturn’s poles where magnetic field lines move through the Polar Regions. These auroras are similar to Earth’s northern and southern lights. It’s possible to listen online to a compressed audio file of radio emissions from Saturn. Could the radio waves be creating the hexagon through sound vibration? (This idea was explored in Atlantis Rising #74 in Crystal Saturn, by Barton Ruggles. Also, don’t miss Jeane Manning in the preceding article on page 46).
Cymatics, from the Greek, kuma, meaning, “wave,” is an aspect of what is termed “modal vibrational phenomena.” Hans Jenny, (1904–1972), a Swiss follower of Rudolph Steiner’s philosophical school of Anthroposophy, first coined the phrase. Jenny published two volumes, entitled Kymatic (1967 and 1972), where he repeated earlier experiments of German musician and physicist Ernst Chladni. Jenny placed sand, dust, and fluids on a metal plate connected to an oscillator that could produce a broad spectrum of frequencies. The sand, or other substances, self-organized into different geometric structures based on the frequency of the vibration emitted by the oscillator—the higher the frequency, the more complex the geometric pattern.
This work clearly shows the relationship between sound vibration and patterned structures, although mathematicians are still struggling to create the equations. Jenny was particularly impressed that a vocalization in ancient Sanskrit of Om (regarded by Hindus and Buddhists as the sound of creation) caused the lycopodium powder on the plate to form an oval with a center point—one of the ways that Om had been represented. Albert Einstein in Living Philosophies said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious,” and the Chladni figures, as they are usually called, are powerful examples.
Hexagons are part of another mystery. There are only three geometrical figures with equal sides that can fit together on a flat surface without leaving gaps—equilateral triangles, squares, and hexagons. What is termed the “honeycomb conjecture” states that a regular hexagonal grid, or honeycomb, is the best way to divide a surface of equal area with the least total perimeter. Although the conjecture is usually attributed to Pappus of Alexandria (ca. 290–350 CE) the first record dates to 36 BCE and Marcus Terentius Varro. The conjecture was proven in 1999 by mathematician Thomas C. Hales, who believed that the idea was present in the minds of mathematicians before Varro.
A honeycomb is a mass of hexagonal beeswax cells that contain honeybee larvae and store honey and pollen. Beeswax is created by worker bees that must consume eight ounces of honey for every ounce of beeswax produced. Therefore, it’s a valuable substance and conservation is key. Scientists who have studied bees describe their remarkable intelligence. Not only do bees learn how to overcome obstacles by doing, but they can actually learn by observing others. According to researchers, bees are brilliant mathematicians and can compute angles. Bees also perform a waggle dance that utilizes speed and directionality to communicate the location of resources relative to their location and the Sun. How did bees learn to create the hexagonal shapes that store the most honey using the least amount of resources? Was it a long process of trial and error, something similar to the way humans learned to tame fire?
Saturn’s hexagon is a marvel and is astrologically significant, since Saturn is seen as the principle of form, structure, and order. Saturn is said to find its highest potential expression in Libra, the sign of harmony and beauty, and the enigmatic blue hexagon seems to embody this principle. Saturn’s domain is the world of form, and the dramatic rings that surround the physical planet represent this elegance and the idea of limitation in physical reality. Astrologers used this interpretation long before there were telescopes and spacecraft. This is perhaps one more example of ancient knowledge that was lost in cyclical cataclysms only to be regained when technology caught up again.
Saturn is often viewed in a dim light, but I believe it is our veiled and incomplete understanding of how consciousness partakes in the creation of reality that causes the problem of perception. In a way, the frequency of our consciousness determines the “geometry” of our experience. Saturn represents the force of gravity and embodies the principle of concrete reality that gives form to energy. Saturn acts to eliminate the results of our wrong choices. This process can feel like loss, but paradoxically, Saturn actually works to bring us closer to our heart’s desire by showing us the consequences of prior choices that led in the opposite direction. Saturn challenges us to face the truth and recognize our resistance and denial in problem areas. As a result, we can gain inner strength, become more responsible, and exercise self-discipline. Saturn deconstructs the area of life affected so better structures can be built. When we deal with Saturn, we deal with authority, both our own capacity to wield authority and our ability to be led by and learn from others.
Capricorn, the Sea Goat, is the smallest zodiac constellation. It’s located in an area of sky called the Sea or the Water, with many other water-related constellations such as Aquarius, Pisces, and Eridanus. The Sea Goat, sometimes called “goat fish,” is an ancient constellation and is related in myth to the Sumerian god Enki who was believed to have arisen from the sea to teach humanity civilization. Capricorn is an uphill climb that eventually succeeds. Ambition and discipline are rewarded by inner satisfaction and outer accomplishment. From the summit, patience and perseverance are rewarded as the results are long lasting. Capricorn builds a strong reputation through achievement that is driven by ambition.
Because we live in a three-dimensional world, Saturn is perhaps the most important transiting influence to understand, because it is the archetypal energy that literally takes form as our reality. Saturn is said to be the ruler of Capricorn, so as Saturn transits its own sign, structures will be tested. Saturn takes its time, and while seeming to delay outcomes, does not deny them. In the end, we get what we have earned, and what we deserve, so it’s wise to bide our time, cultivate cheerfulness and willing discipline rather than resentful resistance.
Reaching the mountaintop doesn’t happen without effort and discipline. As the ringed planet gives form to our life experiences, we receive our lessons. Saturn is at heart a wise teacher while seeming to be a stern taskmaster. It’s important to understand the learning process. With the benefit of hindsight, we tend to credit our most profound lessons to our toughest teachers. In hindsight, we are grateful to those who expected the most from us or held our feet to the proverbial fire. If we accept the teaching and learn the lessons, we are invariably strengthened.
Saturn is seen as the lord of time, and when the planet connects to points in our horoscopes, we can feel like time has slowed. Saturn has traditionally been associated with limitation, frustration and delays because of the importance of timing. Building perfect structures that will endure can’t be rushed, and Saturn in Capricorn insists on precision and structural integrity. Delays are really by-products of Saturn’s concern for rightness and order according to cosmic laws and truth. With Saturn in Capricorn, it is better to be delayed and eventually right rather than early and needful of a second try.
Saturn in Capricorn themes include aging, the voice of experience, ambition, skeleton, bones, buildings, government, engineering, traditions, structures, rules, defense, fatherhood. Saturn in Capricorn is a hard-working, solitary energy. Saturn in Capricorn can teach us that in certain circumstances, following the rules can actually be liberating. We can learn from Saturn’s transits how our critical instruction presents itself either through people or experiences. In actuality, it is our own inner consciousness, seeking balance, and striving toward fulfillment, which brings about these “tests.” This is not really an external process, although outer events provide the classroom.
In the Hebrew Qabalah, Saturn corresponds to the Sephirah Binah on the Tree of Life. Binah is the Great Mother, the matrix of form and template of the manifested universe, whose limitation and form-giving power is a fundamental principle of creation. Saturn also has an intriguing cyclical resonance with the progressed Moon. Saturn’s orbit around the Sun is 29.5 years, while the cycle of the progressed Moon is the same 29.5 years. Saturn rules Capricorn and the Moon rules Cancer, the opposite sign—mother and grandmother. Saturn represents our elders and the voice of experience. Like a grandmother, Saturn is at heart a wise and compassionate teacher. If we take our cue from Qabalah, and think of Saturn as a wise feminine elder, the lessons can take on a different tone. When we are truly wise, we accept our lessons gracefully, and we are invariably strengthened in character. It takes courage to face the truth—precisely what is required to build character for the long game.