In my experience, the Saturn Return is one of the most important features in the path of the zodiac hero, because metaphorically-speaking, Saturn is the planetary governor that represents the father who has to be redeemed by the son (Jupiter) in the Underworld, and the redemption of the ancestral line is a major part of the work for any initiate or shaman.
The character of Pinocchio steps straight out of the Italian travelling marionette theatre which developed from of an older tradition called the Commedia dell’Arte that featured the likes of the battling Harlequin and Pulcinella who were earlier prototypes for Punch and Judy. The Commedia dell’Arte had it roots in Roman and Greek “new comedy” that was, in itself, an evolution of the Mystery Plays of the medieval period. So we do not have to dig down too deeply to find the mythological blueprint underneath, and it is choc-full of magical clues and golden keys that will unlock many doors and build new pathways, bridges and crossings in the mind of the budding initiate.
Let’s start with the Italian Carlo Collodi’s book Le avventure di Pinocchio (The adventures of Pinocchio) which was published in 1883. And we should also include elements from Walt Disney’s movie, Pinocchio, because there are even more symbols in that 1940s cartoon classic than in the book, which all go towards making the point that the narrative of the tale is a metaphor for the journey of the initiate right from its opening sequence with the fibonacci-coiled candlestick holder mirrored in the curlicues of the legs of a table, to the sphinxes guarding each side of the fireplace and the chess board design on the coverlet of Pinocchio’s creator, the carpenter and clockmaker Gepetto.
The motif of the clockmaker father is perfect for Old Father Time, which is one of Saturn’s epithets because it refers to the meting out of the allotted heartbeats of a human life that, in astrological myths, begins in Capricorn, on the Winter Solstice, which is governed by Saturn. The first stage of the journey, which represents early childhood, is also watched over by the Father of Time in Aquarius.
In the story of Pinocchio, the clockmaker carpenter’s name of Gepetto is a dimunitive of Guiseppe, which is Italian for Joseph, another carpenter father who taught wood-working to a son that was required to sacrifice his life by going down into the Underworld, as much as Pinocchio has to rescue his father, Gepetto, from the belly of Monstro the whale (according to Disney) or Collidi’s “horrible dog-fish” that was larger than a five-storey building.
It is not included in the Disney version, but Collidi’s story is set in Tuscany and Pinocchio is carved from a piece of “talking pinewood” that Gepetto gained from a master carpenter, Antonio, whom everyone calls Master Cherry. “Cherry” translates to “cerasus” in Latin and, along with it referring to the dark red, juicy fruit, one of its other meanings is “hymen”: the membrane or “veil” of the virgin which is broken when she first has intercourse.
So Collidi here is giving us an alchemical clue about an act of fertility that resulted in the birth of a talking wooden puppet. If so, this would make Pinocchio quite typical in that most mythological heroes come from the coupling of one human and one divine parent and like Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh (who we will meet later) and Adam in Genesis, they are initially made of natural earthy materials, like wood or clay, which symbolises the pre-initiate stage.
Most of the scrapes into which the young wooden Pinocchio lands himself, that form the trials and tribulations of his passage around the zodiac, come about because he has not yet transformed into a real whole human. He has to learn that to achieve this transformation, one has to develop certain qualities and these can only come about, it seems, by running headfirst into a series of mishaps and brick walls which turn out to be disguises for otherworldly teachers. For instance, when the great Serpent appears to block his path, in the Collidi story, and refuses to budge, Pinocchio’s pleas in its direction are described as if he is “talking to a wall.”
Pinocchio only wins through in end with the help of the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair who appears in the story on two occasions, just like the double-headed goddess Venus. This again is typical of many such heroes from Hercules to Jason, and Theseus to Ulysses, who are only able to conquer the terrifying monsters that they encounter with the help of a beautiful maiden.
But what exactly do we mean by the Saturn Return?
When you go to an astrologer for advice, you will find that they ask for the date and hour of your birth and also the place where you were born. From this, the astrologer can calculate the positions of the stars as they were in the skies at the exact time you came into incarnation, in order to plot what is known as your birth chart, which is unique to each individual. The planets, or planetary governors, will be in certain of your sun signs and so this is what is meant when someone says that they have their Mars in Leo, or their Venus in Virgo.
The birth chart is, in effect, a map of your life and all the challenges you will have to face can be deduced from that map by an expert astrologer who will find the position of Saturn at your birth to be very telling, particularly if you are just reaching your thirties or are just past your mid-fifties or are in your late eighties. This is because Saturn returns every 29 years to the place it occupied in the skies at the time of your birth and its influence can be felt for a few years either side of the ages of 29, 58 and 87.
Words most associated with Saturn’s influence are control, structure, limitations, practicality, discipline, sense of reality and responsibility. In short, in my experience, Saturn is the strict teacher that makes us face parts of ourselves that we would rather not look at because we know that they are our weaknesses. Some psychologists call it facing the dark side of our character, but it is only in the dark until Saturn shines a light on it.
I can give you a personal example.
Whenever Saturn returns into my path, I have to face one of my Leonine weakness which I first became aware of when I was still at school. I think it is quite a classic trait of the king of the jungle who wants to loved by all his “subjects”, and I felt as if I was loved by all … well, most of the time. I would be voted form captain every term by the whole class and the vote was always almost unaminous apart from three girls who seemed, for reasons that I could never discern, to hate me.
My soft and generous lion heart would feel so stung by the “thumbs-down” of these three girls that it over-rode any pleasure that I might have felt about being popular with the rest of the class. My mother tried to help me. She would say: “You can never, in life, have everyone like you. It’s just not possible. Why can’t you just enjoy being popular with most?” My head would realise that she was right, but my heart would still hurt. This is a theme that comes round time and again in my life and, each time, I do a little better with it. So I am getting there! Maybe at my next Saturn Return, I will pass his popularity test with flying colours.
However, it is not because he wants to be cruel to us that Saturn comes into our lives. It is because, whether we remember it or not, we incarnated with a destiny, like the gingham-wrapped package on the pole of the wayfarer, that needs to unravel over time. Saturn is the school bell that signals when recess is over and that it is time to return to our classroom in the School of Hard Knocks.
His final appearance in our lives is as the Grim Reaper and hopefully by then, we will have achieved our destiny. But we begin our journey almost entirely ignorant of the ways of the world and at the mercy of our impulses.
As the Greek philosopher Plato wrote in his Laws 1: 644:
“Our impulses are like cords and strings, which pull us different and opposite ways, and to opposite actions; and herein lies the difference between virtue and vice.”
Just like the wooden stringed puppet Pinocchio, we think we are free, but we are not free because the stars at our birth dictate our character and our strengths and weaknesses which, in turn, inform the sorts of challenges that we will meet.
End of extract
The above was an extract from the new book that I’m currently writing, “Stories in the Stars.”
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
© Annie Easton/Annie Dieu-Le-Veut, March 2018.
My name is Annie Dieu-Le-Veut and I write books on shamanism, Earth magic, Sovereignty, the Grail Mysteries and sacred sexuality. If you’d like to know more about them, read on:
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