Friday 25 March 2011

Saturn: God of Old Age and Time

With the clocks going forward to British Summer Time this Sunday, and with my mother's funeral taking place on Monday, I have chosen Saturn, Roman God of Time, Old Age and Death as the Bad Witch's God of the Week.

Saturn is something of a contradictory deity, as he is both a god of abundant harvests and a god of sadness, decline and death. I think that actually sums old age up pretty well. There are good things and bad things about being old - you can slow down, take it easy and enjoy the fruits of your labours, but on the other hand old age is also a time of diminishing energy. It is when one must come to terms with the time when one will pass from this life and, according to some mythologies, journey onwards to the Summerland.

One can grow old gracefully, in comfort, surrounded by one's family, but it is still the end of one cycle of life.

The Romans honoured Saturn with a festival called Saturnalia just before the Midwinter Solstice and the rebirth of the sun, but I think it is also appropriate to honour Saturn now, just before the clocks spring forward and one can truly say: "Winter is dead. Long live Summer!"

When I was deciding what music to play at mum's funeral, someone suggested playing Saturn: The Bringer of Old Age from Holst's The Planets Suiteas people enter the chapel. It has the advantage of being something appropriate to play at the funeral of someone who died in old age and it also lasts about 8 minutes - enough time for even the slowest mourners to get seated.

However, I have chosen Neptune: The Mystic from the Planet Suite instead, because mum loved the sea, as do I. And I would rather think of my mum sitting on some sunny shoreline, watching the boats sail across the water, than remember her as she was when she was old and dying.

The picture at the top right shows Poster art print: SATURN FROM CASSINI ORBITER SPACECRAFT (A2 - 43x61cm / 17x24in, semi-gloss satin paper). The picture below that shows Holst: The Planets Suite.Both are available from Amazon.

Links and previous posts:
Holst: The Planets Suite


James C. Wallace II said...

Among my many talents is astronomy. I have been a practicing astronomer since 1968 and have had many astrophotos published. I've been Director of 3 different observatories and the 4th largest planetarium in the colonies.

In honor of your mother and your choice of Saturn as your God of the Week, I will fire up my Meade LX-200 10" telescope, attach my Olympus OM-1 and point it towards western Virgo, just a couple of degrees below Denebola, the second brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion, where Saturn now resides.
It reached opposition on March 21st, when it was at its closest point to Mother Earth. Weather permitting Saturday night after midnight, I will take a picture of Saturn and send it to you sometime early next week. I don't do digital, so analog takes a little time to get developed, though the results far outweigh the rapidity of digital. Neptune the Mystic was a fine choice for music. I used it often in my planetarium shows.

Badwitch said...

Thank you very much!