The Scarlet Letter
Volume III, Number 4 | December 1996
The Effect of Saturn on My Year
By Fr. Xephyr

If I had known that my participation in the Rite of Saturn in November of 1995 would force my initiation into the mysteries of Saturn, I'm not sure that I would have become involved. As an actor, one takes a certain defensive posture about one's true nature—the true nature of the character should be explored and presented on the stage, but when the play is over, the character's persona is to be discarded in favor of the actor's. Only in hindsight did I realize the effects of performing a public ritual thinly disguised as a play. The energies of Saturn were integrated into my life: the character I played retained power for me long after the play. A horrible state of an actor to be in, but a fine one for a magician.

SerpentIn my development as a magician, I have had to spend much time working through what seems to be a global confusion about morality. More so, since many magical works dance on a very fine edge between what the general public deems good and evil. I had long since redefined my attitudes about morals based on what I discovered were Thelemic principles. However, since I had little experience with Saturn and its energies, I had only gut reactions and the backward, reactionary attitudes of the general public to steer my thinking. Frankly, I was terrified of Saturn: its aspects of restriction, limitation, and death left me with the impression that Saturnian energies were self-destructive and bitter. What I didn't realize, and couldn't have realized at the time, was that much of this attitude stemmed from the actions and behaviors of the popular "death culture," which I had naturally linked to Saturn.

When asked to play Saturn in the Rite, much of this fear was set aside for these reasons: (1) I was flattered to be asked to play the part, (2) I assumed, with my actor's naivite, that playing the part wouldn't really affect me afterwards, and (3) this was an excuse to explore a side of the universe that I would have normally avoided for as long as possible otherwise. It was my intention to play my role to the best of my ability, to this end, I engaged myself to the Rite as an actor and as a magician.

As an actor I followed the rules of that craft, analing the character in terms of his history and the interactions between him and the other characters in the Rite. I wanted to understand his motivations and attitudes, and for these things I scoured the script, memorized all lines and poems in order to better comprehend the person of Saturn in the play.

As a magician, I used invocation and meditation to bring out the true nature of Saturn. I brought elements of Saturnian energy into my life and worked to see things through the eyes of the god. In other words, I deliberately submerged myself into the reality of Saturn and from this vantage, I brought in my skills as an actor.

However, it is clear that despite my efforts to eff the ineffable, most of my current understanding came not from participation in the Rites, but in hindsight, viewing the year that followed. During the play, I noticed immediate changes, both in my behavior and in the flow of my life. I became more surley, more selfish, and developed a far more utilitarian attitude about life. At the same time, events occured which brightly illuminated for me the value of time. When I thought of wasting time, it became not an activity of leisure as before, but a deliberate theft of my own life's energy. I discovered the that Saturn is not about death, but about the awareness of death and its relationship to everything we do.

The rite itself was performed on November 4, 1995 e.v. and as an actor and magician, I felt the performance was not only good, it was also effective. The energies of Saturn which the whole cast had attempted to manifest were present in their fullness. The presentation of the rite was a time of closure from an actor's perspective, but as a magician, it was a new beginning.

I began to look at my entire life in a new way. I still looked for personal gratification in all my activities as I always had, but the things that provided this gratification had changed. I looked for what I could do to truly fulfill my dreams and proactively worked to achieve them. I had long pondered teaching an astrology class, both to strengthen my own understanding, but to share this knowledge with others. Not long after the Rites, I actually did teach a 12-week class that was quite successful on all counts and encouraged me to continue with that practice.

I had always dreamed of travelling without restriction. Two-week vacations always held the element of rushed pleasure since everything had to be completed in time to return to the rat race. After I completed the astrology class, I began preparations which included divesting myself of my home, my job, and most of my possessions. My friend Antares and I then travelled for four months without needing to be anywhere for any reason, allowing us to be everywhere for every reason.

Financially, the trip was a disaster. Money was always in short supply and getting from place to place became as much an act of will as an act of commerce. But it was during this time that I discovered that what I had studied as a magician had come to a certain fruition. Events were happening around me in accordance to whatever magical act I had most recently attempted. Things that I didn't have rarely bothered me as whatever I needed always seemed to arrive at the proper time. I began to fully trust my abilities as a magician and for the first time truly depend on them.

Before we departed, several friends at different times asked me if there was something I was looking for, while others warned simply that what I sought could nearly always he found at home. I always denied that I was looking for something in particular, but was rather hoping to find something for which I hadn't thought to search. Like the absentminded pedestrian who suddenly discovers that they have arrived at their destination, I was so distracted by the efforts of travel while simultaneously freed from the usual constraints that I didn't realize that I was close to realizing my goal of becoming a magician until I was already there. If anyone now asks what I discovered on my trip, I can honestly say I found myself, and I was a magician.

I'm told that anyone who invokes the god forms at the Rites carries that energy with them for the next year. It's been over a year now—The Rite of Saturn was performed this year on October 26—but as near as I can tell, the effect of Saturn upon me has retained its quality in my life. I don't believe that it was the energy of Saturn which had as much an effect on my life as it was the structure of Saturn which redefined my life. As such, that effect has remained in full force, and for this I can only be happy.

Saturn wasn't what I expected, yet its message was not unexpected. I had known the messages of Saturn before without giving it much thought, and I hadn't associated them with Saturn in any way. If I had, perhaps it would have been more difficult to wrap myself around the part, knowing that I would emerge a different person: more mature, more rational, and less prone to give of myself to my own detriment. As an actor, I failed in the sense that I retained too much of a character I played (always the detriment of any actor). As a magician, however, I succeeded beyond any imagining in gaining a stronger sense of self and a better idea of just what my will is.

Writer's Notes

August 1995: began preparations for role
Mid-September: general rehearsals begin
November 4: evening of Rite of Saturn
March 13—May 29, 1996: astrology class
June 1: Bon Voyage party
June 13–October 18: travelling
October 18: new house
October 26, 1996: 2nd Rite of Saturn

Early Attitudes about Saturn
Seen only in its restrictive and destructive natures. Associated it with Death, Destruction and other things to be generally avoided. Honestly feared Saturn as one would routinely fear death.

Discoveries during rehearsal
Saturn represents the eternal struggle to maintain life—cutting away waste and building strong foundations. Saturn is so full of honesty that it is difficult to take sometimes. Saturn maintains the struggle of the individual over the group.

Later Attitudes about Saturn
Saturn generates foundation and structure that allows one to pursue one's will. For me, at least, the important lesson was to properly balance Jupiterian growth with Saturnian structure.

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