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Celestial Workings: Saturn

Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and is the furthest planet we can see from Earth with the naked eye. It is most commonly recognised by its fantastic ring system, which was discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Saturn is said to have 62 confirmed moons, four of which are called Titan, Enceladus, Iapetus and Rhea. Titan and Rhea are the largest, and Enceladus is said to have a vast ocean beneath its icy surface.

The time it takes to orbit the sun is 10,756 days or 29.5 years. Don’t expect to live very long or well if Saturn was going to be your holiday destination of choice- its surface is minus 139 degrees Celsius. The planet is also not completely circular- its polar diameter is 90% of its equatorial diameter, because of its low density and fast rotation. It has the second shortest day of any of our solar system’s planets, and turns on its axis once every 10 hours and 34 minutes which is a very short day indeed! The planet itself is made mostly of Hydrogen, and as you get deeper into the planet it gets denser and eventually becomes metallic. The innermost core is hot, like you may have seen from our own planet.

It was first recorded in the 8th century by the Assyrians. It is named for the Roman God, Saturnus and was known to the Greeks as Cronus or Kronus. Cronus was the ruling Titan who came to power by castrating his father, Uranus or Ouranos. His name means ‘sky’ or ‘heavens’ and his consort was Gaia, which means earth. It is said that Ouranos fathered 12 sons and 6 daughters. He locked away the eldest two, the giant Kyklopes and Hekatonkheires inside the belly of the earth. Gaia suffered immense pain from this and persuaded her Titan sons to rebel. Four of these sons were set as sentinels at the four corners of the world, ready to grasp their father as he descended to lie upon the earth. The fifth- Cronus- took his position at the centre, and armed with an adamantine sickle, castrated Ouranos while his brothers held him firm. The sky-god’s blood fell and drenched the earth, producing the avenging Erinyes (also known as ‘Furies’) and the Gigantes (Giants).

Cronus’ wife was Rhea (one of the moons of the planet Saturn) and their offspring were the Olympians. To ensure his safety as a ruler, Cronus ate each of his own children as they were born. This worked until Rhea, becoming unhappy about the loss of her children (completely understandable), tricked Cronus into swallowing a rock instead of Zeus, their son. When he grew up, Zeus revolted against Cronus and the other Titans. He defeated them and banished them to Tartarus in the underworld.
However, Cronus escaped to Italy, where he ruled as Saturn. His ruling time was said to be a golden age on the earth, which was honoured by the Saturnalia feast. Not only this, but a festival was held in Athens, honouring Cronus. It was called ‘Kronia’ and it took place on the 12th day of the month Hekatombaion.

The name Cronus, Kronus, etc can be translated to mean ‘time’; think of ‘chronological’ or a ‘chronology’. All of these refer to something being altered or arranged by time. Cronus was especially regarded when looking at the destructive and all-devouring aspects of time.

Palmistry/Chiromancy

Palmistry is something that most people will have heard of.

Inspecting the palms and hands in general to tell someone’s future or to get an idea of what may be in store for them. Better known by its old name of Chiromancy or ‘divination by the hand’. When palmistry began is unknown- however, there are some stories which relay it back to a possible beginning in India. The Greeks have definitely studied it, and Aristotle, in particular, is believed to have had a great interest in it.

Whilst travelling in Egypt, it’s said that Aristotle discovered a manuscript detailing the art and science of hand-reading. He was so amazed by this that he sent this to Alexander the Great, exclaiming how it was ‘a study worthy of the attention of an elevated and enquiring mind’.

This manuscript was then translated into Latin by an individual known as Hispanus and the book discovered by Aristotle was published in 1490 at Ulme and titled: ‘Chyromantia Aristotelis cum Figuris’. However, an even earlier book was printed in 1475 at Augsburg and titled: ‘Die Kunst Ciromantia’ (The art of Chiromancy).

Although nowadays, the acts of divination, palmistry being one of them, are associated with the fortune teller at the local funfair, or something only Pagans do as experimentation with methods of telling the future, in the medieval period, some of its practitioners claimed it was sanctioned in the Bible. As with all things, not all people of the church agreed with this idea although some were all for it. Some people who practised it found it easier to describe and continue practising by associating the reading of palms and hands with astrology- the sun, moon and planets, along with the signs of the zodiac were all said to be associated to different parts of the hands.

The correlation and locations of these areas in conjunction with many more factors led the practitioner to their divinatory outcome. The idea of the hands being associated with astrology can be summed up in a fragment of the medieval verse:

“Est pollex Veneris; sed Juppiter indice gaudet.
Saturnus medium; Sol medicumque tenet,
Hinc stilbon minimum; ferientem candida Luna
Possidet; in cavea Mars sua castra tenet.”

Doreen Valiente, an abc of witchcraft

This translates to:

The thumb is of Venus; but Jupiter delights in the index finger and Saturn in the middle finger, and the Sun holds the third finger (Medicus). Mercury is here at the smallest finger and the chaste Moon occupies the percussion (i.e. the outside of the hand, opposite to the thumb); in the hollow of the hand Mars holds his camp.

DOREEN VALIENTE, AN ABC OF WITCHCRAFT

Each of the four fingers on the hands has three divisions or ‘phalanges’, adding up to twelve in all- this is a correspondence to the twelve signs of the zodiac within our very hands.

A good hand reader did not need to cast an elaborate horoscope for the client- if they knew how to read it, it was already present in the hand for them to see and read. This may be a reason why those from the poorer classes of society would learn and develop the skills to apply palmistry because they could not afford the expensive astronomical instruments needed to otherwise tell a horoscope. Knowing the secrets of the hand is one of many well-known and needed skills in witchcraft. 

Seven is a magical number which also features largely in palmistry. It is said that there are seven chief lines on the palm of the hand; the line of life, of heart, of the head, of Saturn or of Fortune, of the Sun or brilliance, the hepatica or line of health and the girdle of Venus. There are also said to be seven ‘mounts’ on the palm, named after the Sun, Moon and planets. There was a famous French palmist called D’Arpentigny, who also wrote that there were seven types of hand. These are the elementary hand, the conical or artistic hand, the square or useful hand, the spatulate or active hand, the pointed or psychic hand, the knotty or philosophic hand, and the mixed hand, which is a mixture of all types. As well as the seven types of hand, there is said to be four different types of fingertips- spatulate, conical square and pointed. These are said to be associated with the four elements and in turn the types of temperament they govern.

It is important when studying palmistry that both of the hands are studied- when previously looking into the skills around palmistry, I was told by all kinds of sources to only study one hand for certain things, but it is important to study both hands. It is said that the left hand will show the inherited tendencies of the client and the right hand will show what use the person has made of the pre-determined tendencies. If the client is left handed, these practices will be applied the other way around.

There have been many books and studies about the practice of palmistry over the years it has been used, including an individual’s work- Louis Hamon- who practised under the pseudonym ‘Cheiro’. Although his work may be considered out of date, his work actually helped to make palmistry legal- there was a time when it was illegal in Britain for many years.

This was under the ‘Rogues and Vagabonds Act of 1824’ in the reign of King George IV. This act stated:

Every person pretending or professing to tell fortunes, or using any subtle craft, means or device, by palmistry or otherwise, to deceive and impose on any of His Majesty’s subjects” could be sentenced to 3 month’s hard labour.

Rogues and Vagabonds Act of 1824

This act was sometimes used to apply to general witchcraft, too. This shows just how far we have come with acceptance and laws over the years. Nowadays, people in many countries can practise what was considered ‘witchcraft’ or ‘the devil’s work’ freely with no consequence. Of course, we cannot forget those countries which do not have that luxury – in many places in the world, people are being tried for and killed as it is believed they are practising witchcraft. In many countries, there are laws relating to the practice of witchcraft, and what can and can’t be practised.

In the developed world generally, it is considered ok to practice and be a witch, as well as practice forms of divination. 

– Lotte


Lunar Cycles

The moon is a very inspirational thing for many people the world over. Seeing something under the light of the moon can alter your perceptions. Much of ‘Traditional’ magic favours moon or candlelight in order to perform spells and rites. It does help to focus if you are using natural, moon or candlelight when performing a ritual as light bulbs can create a lighting effect that makes it hard to concentrate or focus. Sometimes they can be too bright, not bright enough, or simply give you a headache.

Many choose to do their spell work under the cover of darkness- perhaps harking back to the days of being a witch or ‘Pagan’ in secret- but daylight is just as powerful for spell working and ceremony. Moonlight adds a certain mystery to a setting, the ability to perhaps see beyond what is really there on this plane and focus on the spirit. Daylight can be unforgiving in that it doesn’t always allow for that kind of vision.

Being in a dense forest in daylight can bring a different lighting atmosphere to a setting, because of the dappled sunlight hitting the floor as it comes through the branches and leaves, rather than directly from the sun itself. It acts as a filter from both the harsh light and the intense heat in the summertime. The moon can allow you to see shapes within the trees, moonlight dancing through the leaves and branches and reflecting off pools of water in a subtle, yet powerful manner.

The cycle of the moon is associated with the tides rising and falling, the female menstrual cycle, the tenacity of the sea including the occurrence of storms, and the womb. Moonlight is said to cleanse, to empower people and objects- looking at the sea, it is also traditionally said to help wash away that which is not needed or required and smooths the harshest of surfaces over time.

The moon is also said to affect the growth of plants and the harvest of fruits. The Roman author, Pliny, recommended that farmers pick their fruit for market just before the full moon because it would contain more water and weigh more, but to pick fruit for their own stores at the new moon because it would last longer. This same guidance could be applied to crops- ones that grow above ground were planted during the waxing moon, and those that grow below ground like bulbs and root crops, should be planted during the waning moon. The waning moon is the time to prune and transplant and the last quarter is said to be best for harvesting.

The reason for this lunar growing is because the moon affects the seed and plant’s ability to draw up water. Planting seeds just before a full moon can give them an edge. In relation to magical energies surrounding the moon, it makes sense that they would thrive near the full moon rather than the new moon because it can be much harder to draw energy around the time of the new moon than near to the full.

In many societies, the full moon for each month has its own name which is derived from the agricultural and seasonal cycle. This is from findings dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period of their names for the full moons during the year:

December- January: Moon after Yule
January- February: Wolf Moon
February-March: Lenten Moon
March- April: Egg Moon
April- May: Milk Moon
May-June: Flower Moon
June-July: Hay Moon
July-August: Grain Moon
August- September: Harvest Moon
September- October: Hunter’s Moon
October- November: Blood Moon
November-December: Moon Before Yule

Any extra full moons in a single month were referred to as a Blue Moon.
These names for the different moons throughout the year are from time-meddler.co.uk

Alternative names for them are found over at earthsky.org and are as follows:

January: Old Moon, Moon after Yule
February: Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon
March: Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Lenten Moon
April: Grass Moon, Egg Moon
May: Planting Moon, Milk Moon
June: Rose Moon, Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon
July: Thunder Moon, Hay Moon
August: Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon
September: Fruit Moon, Harvest Moon
October: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon
November: Hunter’s Moon, Frosty Moon/Beaver Moon
December: Moon before Yule or Long Night Moon.

The moon can be used to bring specific energy to the circle depending on the phase of the moon. Drawing Down the Moon is one of these practices, and is performed at the full moon. This kind of ritual is possible to perform alone or with a group- depending on how you like to practise your rites. The full moon rituals will be to welcome in positive energies- at this time, you draw things toward you.

The new moon is exactly the opposite- you aim to let go or distance yourself from situations or relationships that are no longer good for you, or perhaps a bad habit that’s happening. This then allows you to move on with a clear, fresh energy.

Moving forward and letting go are two major aspects to look at and remember when you’re working with the moon; greeting and parting, welcoming and bidding farewell. You can also look at these aspects from a seasonal perspective which can also help with the energies- spring for welcoming and autumn for letting go, just as the leaves and plants respond to the changing year.

~ Lotte

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