Saturn: Leaden Foot, Bottom Line Planet


The Saturnian System (photographic montage)

Image via Wikipedia

Saturn’s metal is lead. The origins of planetary correspondences are lost in time, but they come down to us in metaphorical language as well as in ancient wisdom.

Saturn is one of the two primary planets in the business cycle, where we see Saturn as the accountant, accountability, responsibility, and the bottom line.

Saturn’s association with death is actually closely related to its connection with business accountability. Saturn isn’t death by violence; it’s simply the boundary, the end of life in the body. From Saturn as old age and death, we get Saturn as Father Time and the end of the old year on New Year’s Eve and Saturn as aging, the heavy hand of time and limitation.

When you think about Saturn, you may turn to metaphors like leaden, heavy, weighty or depressing. Whole books have been written about Saturn as life’s adversary and limiter.

But Saturn is also focus. Like the lead cloths that protect healthy tissue from X-rays and radiation, Saturn blocks out distractions so we can focus our creative work. Saturn is the form of poetry, the word length limit of a novel, and the meticulous copyediting every book deserves.

When I studied poetry with Karl Shapiro, the master of free verse made us work on form. We were shocked, dismayed. At least I was. And then Karl told us a secret: the most creative work is done within limitations.

Focus does something good for creative work. For one thing, it gets the work finished. There’s that Saturn finality again. For another, the boundaries provide a shape that makes the story easier for the reader to understand and assimilate.

So while Saturn is heavy equipment (and heavy going), dull in color and leaden by feel, it is also the safe confines and rules that provide the foundation for the flowering of creative work. Who would have expected lead to lead to lighthearted creations?

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