Saturn The Gatekeeper by Itziar Azkona

Saturn is the strongest among the four lords of karma;
it forces us to confront the past and to get ready in the present for the future.
Alice A. Bailey

To study and to work with Saturn
transforms a candidate into an accepted disciple.
Dr. Sri k. Parvathi Kumar

Saturn gives us the opportunity to get to
a deeper meaning of suffering.
Liz Greene

Saturn is my Sun’s co-ruler. I have always being identified with Uranus. It was much more fun and unpredictable. I admit that I completely dismissed Saturn, by ignorance, or course. My Saturn is in Taurus in the 8th House, therefore, it won’t be a surprise that I have being driven to do some research on my Saturn through a more esoteric and hidden symbolism.

While doing research on Saturn, apart from doing further reading I have being really interested in studying Saturn archetype represented on Tarot. I took Rider’s Tarot as reference together with Jung’s perspective on the path that it represents towards individuation. At first, each one of the Mayor Arcane correspond either to a planet including moon and sun (10) either to a Zodiac Sign (12), in total 22 Major Arcanes.

Although each card corresponds to one of the astrological archetypes, limits on which one is what may vary according to different theories. In fact, if we think that a small part always contains information of the whole, it is rather difficult to differentiate and isolate each card as a single symbol and one card may contain information of the rest. Anyway, there seems to be more agreement among some cards and more controversy about others. And this seems to be the case of Saturn since Saturn’s clues can be found not just in one single card or two, but in several at a time. At the beginning I was confused about that since my Virgo ascendant was trying to match it to a single card, as the rest. However I realized, through meditation, that Saturn being in more than one card, confirms that Saturn is, as many astrologers describe it, THE GATEKEEPER and manifests itself anytime a cycle ends and a new stage approaches. Since the path towards individualization implies different levels it seems quite normal that Saturn, as gatekeeper, appears more than once. Let’s see when it is more likely to do so…

rider-waite-tarot-the-hermitIn the first place, I found Saturn in The Hermit. As a whole, I see this card as representative of Virgo energy as universal solitude and wisdom that come from being alone. However, and according to some theories, the Hermit may represent the time when a cycle comes to an end -number 9- and an important gate in the Jungian individuation path, at the beginning of the process when we start learning how to contain instinctive emotions. Therefore, Saturn, through the Hermit, appears here showing that something has come to an end, showing that we have arrived to a door, the door where heroes normally have to get through by passing a test -experience.

Saturn in the Hermit would mean, then, the help we need to contain excessive emotionality, to look at desires face to face to contain them, not to deny them, but to contain them within the ring. Instincts may be overcome and the path to higher aspirations may be unveiled after the passage. The Hermit, as old wizard, may give us practical advice which comes from a wisdom that he gained with time, in solitude, it comes from inside, from hard work and experience, “inner wisdom”.

Note: the figure with the light may represent a 9. Ice on his feet may represent emotional coldness and the stick his support to be grounded.

In the second place, I found Saturn symbolism in the Death, the 13th arcane in Rider’s Tarot. I think that this card is more representative, as a whole, of Scorpio’s energy. Nevertheless, death comes to represent another final stage in our personal growth development. It is not the end of everything, but the end of another cycle which requires deep transformation. Also, death as Jung describes it, means a need to overcome further limits. In this occasion, to me, to overcome this limit may mean to go from personal planets to transpersonal planets. It may be a parallelism between Mercury/Jupiter and Uranus as two mental levels, between Venus/Mars and Neptune as two emotional levels and between Earth and Pluto as two levels of action. In consequence Saturn would be the RING to come across from one level to the other, from a more concrete to a more abstract level of thinking, feeling and doing.

rider-waite-tarot-deathIn a way, Saturn would represent at this stage, the act of giving everything without expecting anything in return. In fact, when I feel under a Saturn influence is like knowing I am under pressure to pass the experience and to learn something that I will only figure out in near the future. It is very much like giving everything being blind about what it is yet to come. I also associate this card with the goodness of Saturn as protection or limit, since the inner self needs some protection, it cannot go, nude to the world. If the protection or ego comes too strong, then we will have to break it through in order to express new meanings, but at the beginning it keeps us safe.

Note: Death is being represented by an armour, a symbolism of protection, a metal ring for the body. It causes chaos and fear, all figures are on the ground, only one stands up, praying, faith as HOPE. The horse is white and in movement, representing that life goes on, but only half of it, there is more to come, although we do not see it know or when…


Finally, I have found Saturn in the World, Arcane XXI. I even see this card as “the most Saturnine of all”, the final Gatekeeper, at the end of Fool’s Hero Journey. It would mean the result of previous Saturn transits under Hermit and Death, where satisfaction from the experience may appear and bring joy and fulfillment. It could be the most difficult aspect to integrate or to understand but it does not mean it does not exist. Here is where Liz Green, in her book about Saturn, puts the stress in making conscious those experiences that block us by taking us to the limit, preventing us away from expressing our most inner self. From a Jungian perspective, at this stage, we would have been able to overcome the gate of all gates, DUALITY. Isn’t that the main objective of Saturn? I see Saturn as taking us to live experiences that we do not want to, to complement experiences that we already know. It would be like plugging us to the unknown, for us to become familiar with the unfamiliar, to become more authentic and real human beings through experiencing both sides of life. Paradoxically the main ring in ourselves is between what we really are and what we pretend to be.

rider-waite-tarot-the-worldSaturn, in this card would mean joy and teaching that have come from having overcome all limits through sobriety, sacrifice and discipline. It is the experience that has forged wisdom, taking us to a final act that represents materialization of the whole. Some kind of crystallization has to happen in order to achieve the final result. Art is nothing without the technique, some Saturn is needed. And the result is joy and older and stronger feeling than suffering.

Note: bull, lion, man and eagle will represent the four elements through four astrological signs. The figure is dancing within the oval Vesica Pisces. She dances because she is happy, now she knows that everything was worthy.

In consequence, I see Saturn acting as a ring of protection between personality –Ego- and the Self –Soul- and giving us the time, patience and expertise to demolish the wall we build to protect us from the outside world. Its action is positive, in the end. It always contains crisis and limits to be overcome to get mastery in life, but it may worth a lot. I hope that further artistic representations contribute to balance Saturn’s most negative and scary images of a God that killed his father and ate his sons showing the inevitable: that time goes by.

By the way, when Gods killed or tried to kill their sons, eating what they fear it could be their end, they were in the same search we are as human beings, in the search of immortality, understood as the next stage that shows up after the gate, after Saturn’s test. If a path in life shows us a veil after every single veil and infinite veils, immortality is involved. It would mean that life goes in spiral instead in circles, and that, at the Fool, the last Major Arcane, there is another Saturn. It is at the gate that take us at the beginning again, although a new beginning, from a higher level than the previous one and the journey starts again, and experiences will continue and Saturn will appear again and again, all towards IMMORTALITY.

FINAL NOTE: Not only this research, but Astrology, as a whole, brings me, every day, to higher levels of TRUTH about myself and about the psychological dimension of the Self. To me truth is a path towards JOY. At present Saturn is taking most of my time away from going out and being with friends, I am like the Hermit when I study, like the Death any time I have to pass an exercise or the exam, but I am giving everything, knowing that Saturn, in the end, will bring me a reward manifest in whatever form and, through the World it will show the experience was worthy and that Joy is a major emotion, older and stronger than suffering!!!Itziar Azkona

Itziar is Certificate Holder and is currently studying at Diploma Level 1.

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