Saturn’s Return and the Prodigal Son
My relationship with Saturn often reminds me of the story of the Prodigal Son. The Saturn Return demands a return to ‘home’ at certain periods of our lives, and yet those who are not taught how to work with and surrender to this necessary astrological cycle can face a nervous breakdown.
However, with the right guidance, we can optimise the Saturn Return by learning to enjoy working with one of our oldest spiritual influences going back to Babylonian times.
The Saturn Return is an astrological influence which occurs several times in a person’s life. Each cycle coincides with the approximate time it takes for Saturn to make one orbit around the Sun, which is 29.4 years. This means that we each experience a Saturn Return around the ages of 28-30, 56-60 and 84-90.
It seems to me that Saturn, during a Return, can appear to bring our lives to a complete standstill. Nothing we do seems to work. We feel stunted in our growth and progress, beset with obstacles and obstructed at every turn. This is one of main characteristics of Saturn.
Saturn appears in the Bible as the angel which obstructs Balaam’s ass (see The Origins of Satan). But if you read the story properly, you’ll see that Saturn was doing Balaam a favour by obstructing him. And this is the lesson we all have to learn. We may not like it, but Saturn is acting in our best interests.
Saturn only seems annoying to us when we’re headstrong and not listening to our inner selves. We have to stop, sit down and concentrate on what our life is trying to tell us.
Saturn could be compared to a particularly strict Latin teacher. Yes, the subject matter is difficult and no excuses are accepted for late homework submissions! But once we surrender to this regime, and give this teacher our full concentration, it’s not half so tricky as we thought it might be and there’s also a certain mental satisfaction in the logic being revealed to us and the completion of a job well done in which our Father Time ‘is well-pleased’.
Working with Saturn through alchemy
So in recent weeks, I’ve begun to work with Saturn. I’ve been doing this through an alchemical process which brings out the spirit of the herb. The product from this alchemical process is known as a ‘spagyric’.
Spagyrics were first brought to the West by Paracelsus, the medieval alchemist, who re-discovered alchemy in Asia and Egypt after all traces of it were kicked over by the Christians.
Spagyrics are a combination of already-known medicinal products, but one in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Most of us are familiar with tinctures of plants, such as Bach’s flower remedies, and salts derived from plants, such as homeopathic remedies. With spagyrics, the tincture (flower remedy) and the salt (homeopathic remedy) are used in combined form, and that’s where where the magic comes in.
Let me explain this by sharing a basic principle of alchemy. Alchemy is based on the principle that everything on Earth (all matter) can be broken down into three components ~ salt, sulphur and mercury. When you combine salt and tincture (salt and sulphur) you create a third thing, known to alchemists as mercury. And as any Tarot reader will tell you, Mercury is the Magician.
This diagram explains the concept.
OK, I won’t play up this magical aspect too much because it’s not witchcraft, although witches may make spagyrics. When I use the term ‘magic’, I’m referring to natural processes which work with Spirit, but the doorway to which modern science has bolted shut and thrown away the key. By insisting, as did Hippocrates, the 5th century so-called Father of Medicine, that we only deal with what we can experience through our five senses, the Sixth Sense is banished to the Wasteland and with it, some incredible useful therapeutic remedies which could benefit our mind-body-spirit today.
With spagyrics, the alchemist contacts and works with the soul of the plant in creating an elixir that carries the power of his or her intention not only to quicken their own spiritual evolution, but also that of the plant.
So how do you make spagyrics?
Well, it’s very easy. You just need some basic kitchen equipment, like kilner jars, a pestle and mortar, some coffee filters, and of course, the basic ingredients ~ the herb and a good quantity of pure grain alcohol. You will also need a planetary chart, and there’s one here.
On a Saturday a few weeks ago, which is the day ruled by Saturn, a friend and I made Horsetail spagyric. Horsetail is one of the oldest herbs on the planet and it is governed by Saturn. These days, it grows to about six feet high but back then, when it was eaten by dinosaurs, it would grow the size of trees.
Horsetail is already known to be very good for strengthening and for stability. With its high component of silica, it strengthens hair, teeth, nails, bones and in fact, all the connective tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, which run through the body. I was also pleased to learn that it also supports the spleen as I’ve always had a weak one.
So on the day of Saturn, and the hour of Saturn, we made a prayer to ask that the mysteries of Saturn would be revealed to us through the auspices of the Saturn-governed herb Horsetail, and that the evolution of Horsetail’s soul would be facilitated by this work, as well as our own, in line, of course and as always, with the Divine Will and the highest good of all. Incidentally, it is this way of communing with Spirit during the work that separates the true alchemist from the mere chemist.
We then began to grind small quantities of the herb with a pestle and mortar, the whole time using our power of intention to send a message to the spirit of the plant as to our aims.
After an hour of grinding and pummelling, we poured Horsetail into a clean jar and then covered the herb in pure grain alcohol. Once the herb was covered, we added the same amount of pure grain alcohol again. Then we sealed the jar and put it on the shelf to let it stand.
That evening, the spirit of Horsetail appeared in my vision, smiling. I was surprised to see that she had green skin and bright orange hair but neverthless, was extremely beautiful!
The jar with the herb and alcohol mix stood on a shelf for two weeks, and on each morning and evening, I would give it a good shaking.
Then at the end of the second week, on the day of Saturn (Saturday) and the hour of Saturn, we decanted the mixture and strained it through the coffee filters into a bowl, taking care to extract all the moisture from it. Putting the resulting tincture to one side (which, by now, was smelling like pure heaven!), we took the remains and spread them on a baking tray and put them into an oven set up at the highest possible heat.
I won’t lie to you. My gas bill is going to be horrendous because it took about five hours at least, possibly six, to ‘cook’. At each hour or so, we would open the oven door (carefully!) and inspect the mass on the baking tray. Over time, some of the outer mass appeared to blacken, leaving the inner substance white. And so it was an ongoing process of scraping away the blackened part (alchemists call this stage ‘calcination’ and ‘separation’) until we were left with a mainly white substance known as the salts.
We added the salts to the tincture ~ and hey presto! We had a Horsetail spagyric.
So what’s it like?
Well, firstly, it tastes delicious. But the next thing I noticed was a feeling of contraction. Everything contracted ~ not just my inner organs but also my sense of reality. It was a tremendous relief, as if I had been roaming far and wide for far too long, just like the Prodigal Son. It was like coming home.
I’ve been having a teaspoon in a tall glass of water every day for a week now, and I’m really feeling the benefit of it. It is like a normal tonic, in that you feel physically strengthened. But unlike a normal tonic, I also feel incredibly strengthened on the mental and spiritual level too.
The spirit of Horsetail has visited several times since the first time, and I can feel her grounding influence on me. She is making me feel that I can fight any battle, if I have to, and that I am firmly rooted in the Earth, which is supporting me. I feel as strong as a dinosaur!
We asked for the Mysteries of Saturn to be revealed to us, and that has barely begun although it is unfolding, gradually, in true leaden Saturn style. I’ll let you know how that goes. But in the meantime, I hope Rob Purday won’t mind if I finish with an extract from his most recent post on his excellent Owlmirror blog on how Saturn is affecting us all right now, as we go into Samhain.
…and Saturn! The keeper of the gateway is also in a tight sextile with Mars. Saturn can have a civilising influence upon that strong fiery egotisitcal Mars, can be the rules and orders that martial the will into discipline. Such self discipline is crucial and can be incredibly empowering for us in holding to our vision and collectively bringing wisdom to bear on our wounded and wounding nature as we follow the path inwards…
Saturn is also in closing trine to Neptune and Chiron, by wide orb at the moment, but, we need to get the message Saturn brings here right now. We should be prepared for the long haul, and in the balance is everything we hold most valued – Saturn in Libra enables us to give real shape and form to the most enduring of our values, once we have stripped away the dross and developed true appreciation for Life, and he will offer us a fair run at it over the next year, spending a further long period retrograde before he enters Scorpio early in October 2012.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like to read some more posts on alchemy. Both The Great Work, the Crucifixion and the Marriage at Cana and Re-membering the Last Abbot Alchemist of Glastonbury deal with alchemy within Christianity. And The Alchemy of Plato examines the history of alchemy going right back to the ancient Egyptians and the Emerald Tablet.
For more about Saturnine motifs in the Bible, read The Origins of Satan.
For books on alchemy, visit the Alchemy and Magic section of the Ishtar’s Gate Library.
If you enjoyed this post, and would like to discuss with others of like mind, please do join us on Ishtar’s Gate forum. Just click on the Gate and come in!