and brooding, holds a scythe as he governs the
affairs of Earth within the zodiac circle. The
cardinal points of the compass match the cardinal
signs indicating winter solstice is at hand. Late
December is the time of year when Saturn comes to
power. He wears the six- pointed star known as
Solomon's seal, a mystic symbol of the union of body
and soul. ,The unknown European artist who made this
16th-century woodcut based his conception of Saturn
on traditions reaching back in time to the days of
the Roman Empire.
of Saturn wasn't always gloomy.
As an early
Roman god of seed-sowing and harvest, his nature was
robust and rustic. It was only when he became
equated with the Greek god Kronos that aspects of
cold cruelty and self-serving ruthlessness appeared.
And no wonder.
mythology, Kronos was the most powerful of the
Titans, elder gods who ruled the world many ages
ago. To foil a prophesy that one of his own children
would dethrone him, Kronos devoured them at birth.
Zeus, his sixth child, was spirited away to safely
by his mother who then deceived Kronos by presenting
him instead with a stone wrapped in swaddling
clothes. This, too, he apparently swallowed without
ill effect. But Zeus, grown to manhood, forced his
father to disgorge the family and with the help of
his brothers Poseidon and Hades, deposed Kronos who
fled to Italy in exile. Hidden in the myth is a
Greek theme that Kronos personifies Time cannot
successfully consumme The Heavens of Zeus, the Seas
of Poseidon, I, a or the Underworld of Hades.
And then the
Romans added a sequel to the story.
seems, upon arrival in Italy to join his identity
with Saturn, sons ushered in a veritable Golden Age
of the freedom, peace, and prosperity. It was one of
those rare eras in human history when no class
distinctions existed. All god people were equal. It
is this happy interval that came to be celebrated in
later Roman times by the midwinter festival of god
considered festivals as elements of good government
and social order. The darkest days of the year were
enlivened by Saturnalia which began on December 17
with sacrifices and an open-air banquet attended by
made gifts to the poor, schools had a holiday, the
law courts closed, all work was stopped, no
criminals were punished for six days, slaves were
free and waited on by their masters, and people
gambled for nuts (symbols of fruitful- ness)— not
quite the licentious picture painted by later
historians. It was a time used of making Wax candles
clay dolls were traditional gifts. For one glorious
week of good will, Rome commemorated the Time when
the spirit of ancient Greece . enobled Roman
vitality with the greeting