Saturnius Mons

/ I o  S a t u r n a l i a /


Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter. It is a gas giant with an average radius about nine times that of Earth. Although only one-eighth the average density of Earth, with its larger volume Saturn is just over 95 times more massive. Saturn is named after the Roman god of agriculture; its astronomical symbol represents the god’s sickle. Saturn has a prominent ring system that consists of nine continuous main rings and three discontinuous arcs and that is composed mostly of ice particles with a smaller amount of rocky debris and dust. Sixty-two moons are known to orbit Saturn, of which fifty-three are officially named. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, and the second-largest in the Solar System, is larger than the planet Mercury, although less massive, and is the only moon in the Solar System to have a substantial atmosphere.

The cosmic voice of Saturn

Known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture and periodic renewal. In later developments he came to be also a god of time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace. The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the deity Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves.

Robert Hooke, 1666

In ancient Hebrew, Saturn is called Shabbathai (שבתי). Its angel is Cassiel (Caphziel ,קפציאל) and its intelligence or beneficial spirit is Agiel (אגיאל). His darker aspect is Zazel (זזל).  In Jewish mysticism and Mesopotamian mythology, Cassiel is associated with the planet Saturn and the direction north. He is the controller of the moon. In the magical text ”Berit Menucha” (ברית מנוחה), Cassiel is associated with kefitzat haderech (קפיצת הדרך), the ability to travel quickly through space. Ancient Hebrew amulets bearing his name are used to drive away one’s enemies. The words on the charm are written with the blood of a bird and then tied to the foot of a dove. The dove is then set to flight, taking one’s enemy with it. Should the bird refuse to fly, it is a sign that one’s enemies won’t depart either. Archangel Cassiel can also be called: Casiel, Cassel, Castiel, Cas, Cass, Casitiel, Castael, Mocoton, Kaziel, Kafkiel, Qafsiel, Qaphsiel, Qaspiel, Quaphsiel.

Gustav Davidson writes that Qafsiel is described as the ruler of the seventh heaven in 3 Enoch. However, Odeberg’s edition only states in a footnote that Qafsiel is:

One of the guardians of the door of the seventh Hall.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft began the last chapter of its 20-year mission to Saturn. Diving deeper into Saturn’s rings than ever before, scientists hope that the data from Cassini’s final orbits will help to improve our understanding of the giant ringed planet. The probe’s last act will be to plunge itself into the planet’s atmosphere, where it will burn up and become part of the planet itself.

Described in ”Hekhalot Rabbati” (Greater Hekhalot ההיכלות רבתי, The Hekhalot literature) as a guardian of the palace, armed with a lightning-dripping sword (which shouts “Ruin!”) as well as a bow, tempests, light, and powerful winds — weapons which he uses against anyone not fit to see God. Later described in the same work as one of three “guardians of the entrance of the seventh palace“, alongside Dumiel (דומיאל) and Gabriel (גבריאל). ”Sefer Raziel” (ספר רזיאל המלאך) lists Qephetzial as the prince of Saturn. The Zohar describes Kafziel as one of the two chief aids to Gabriel.

In rabbinic literature, the Kabbalah is the only text to relate the identity of angels with souls. Tradition differs as to how many classes of angels exist although all relate the number of angel classes to the heavens in a one-to-one ratio. One of the older and most common views, divides angels into seven classes. Another tradition states that there are only three true archangels and only three heavens. And then there is a third tradition, combining the two aforementioned for a total of ten classes of angels. Yet another theory relates the names of the archangels to the planets.

In such works as the ”Key of Solomon” (Mafteah Shelomoh, מפתח שלמה), it says:

It serveth to invoke the Spirits who are under the Firmament.



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