Saturnian Influences in Plant Magic and Healing Work
Saturnian Herbs, Shadow Work and the Poison Path
The characteristics of Saturnian herbs are of a nature that is cold, drying and restrictive. They are plants that effect the bones, skin and connective tissues. Deliriants and hypnotics (different from psychedelics and hallucinogens) like the tropane alkaloid containing plants of the Nightshade family are Saturnian; and all poisonous plants or herbs of a baneful nature have been marked by Saturn.
Astrologically, Saturn is known as the task master who forces us to get back to work and face the things we would rather not face. Saturn is about slow, hard and consistent work over a period of time. This is one of the reasons Saturnian plants are so beneficial for shadow work. This type of intense personal inventory takes time and the process cannot be rushed. By gradually chipping away at our delusions, forcing us to face our fears and confront parts of ourselves that have been kept hidden.
Defining our Boundaries in Our Own Terms
The ringed-giant also rules boundaries. Saturn’s rings are a physical manifestation of this rulership, and its place at the boundary of the inner and outer solar system is evidence of Saturn’s liminal nature. Saturn can help us understand more about our own boundaries. Some boundaries keep us safe and keep us on our path, while others can constrain us and hold us back. Having clearly defined boundaries is necessary in both our physical and spiritual aspects of our lives. A boundary can contain something, or it can keep unwanted things out. By clearly defining our boundaries we define what is acceptable and what is not. Healthy boundaries are necessary and determining where our boundaries lie, and which ones are serving us in a positive way is something that many people have difficulty with.
People can also create boundaries in their lives as a kind of protective mechanism, but too many boundaries impede progress and cut us off from necessary experiences. We don’t want to seal ourselves off from the world around us. For example, we may have boundaries or walls in place to protect ourselves from emotional pain, however these experiences are often needed for growth. A healthy boundary should be like a cell membrane. A definitive boundary, the cell membrane, contains the protoplasm of the cell, protecting its genetic material. However, the cell membrane must be permeable so that nutrients necessary for the healthy function of the cell are absorbed, and waste can be excreted.
Our own boundaries must also be permeable, and capable of discerning what is necessary and what is to be avoided. A circle of protection is an obvious boundary. Intentionally laid, it can protect one from outside forces, but it can also act as a container, keeping something dangerous from the rest of the world. There is a mutual balance with healthy boundaries, an energetic exchange or understanding between what lies on either side. How we allow this exchange to occur is up to us. We must define what is expected from such boundaries so that they do not become blockages.
Living without conscious boundaries leaves us prey to the fancies of the people around us. Without boundaries or rules for ourselves, what we consider acceptable behavior from ourselves and others, we become too easily influenced by our environments.
When we live by a set of principles laid out for ourselves, we give ourselves the freedom and the tools to take control of our own lives. In an exchange like oathtaking, adhering to the boundaries that we have set for ourselves feeds energy back into the cycle of exchange. By refining our boundaries so that they work for us instead of against us we can gain great benefits.
In the same way when one makes sensible dietary choices, eating healthy and getting regular exercise; we are living within the parameters of a boundary that we have set for ourselves. The boundary is crossed when we do not comply with what was originally set into place. When we make unhealthy choices we lose the energy and the momentum that we built up. This way of thinking ties directly into magical practice. In magic our words are our power. Through our words we communicate our will and our desires to the Universe. Every time we keep our word we add to that reservoir of power. It is just like fasting or abstaining from something. By undertaking these conscious actions we are adding to our own personal power. When we aren’t true to ourselves we are undermining our own personal power.
Saturnian plants help us to reclaim that power and hold on to it. They teach us that delving into our dark depths is necessary. We must have some mastery or sense of understanding of our own darkness before working with darker forces such as chthonic spirits and deities, the Dead and the Shadow. We can cultivate the Shadow within ourselves through embracing and accepting those parts of ourselves that society deems unacceptable. There is a paradox here. In pushing our existing boundaries at the beginning of this work, we break through many of the limitations that we have put on ourselves throughout our lives. The boundaries that constrain us are often the result of fears caused by the expectations that society, our family or our own ego puts on us.
Through an understanding of Saturnian influences, of poison, and the process of putrefaction; of death and decay we are better able to transform ourselves. This transformation is never easy. Our new form, rising from the ashes is the result of destruction and desiccation.
Using Saturnian herbs for healing and transformative magic will be one of the topics for my upcoming online workshop. Follow Poisoner’s Apothecary on Facebook and Instagram for information on dates and cost.
Saturnian Herb Correspondences by Harold Roth at Alchemy-works.com