Regnum in Potentia: Saturn’s Kingdom Transformed Into the Golden Age, Part 1

As I join the world in watching with awe the revolutions unfolding throughout the Middle East, and the spirited revolt that seems to be spreading across the West, I can’t help but think that we are really witnessing the dawning of a new era. The revolution that is spreading is spearheaded largely by the disenfranchised youth of the world. Educated and hard-working but unable to obtain a job, feed themselves, or raise a family, and with no future prospects whatsoever, the present generation has no choice but to fight for survival. Moreover, the elder generation of ruling class, grown fat on the blood of their subjects and dependent on their servants for everything, have laid upon this generation an enormous, unpayable debt burden that has been built up over the last several generations, and demanded that the youth of today now pay the full price for the sins — the laziness, selfishness, and neglect — practiced by their forefathers. Not surprisingly, the answer to this call has been a resounding “Hell no.” The elite, who weren’t expecting such an insolent reaction, are now attempting to bomb, shoot, and bludgeon their young slaves into submission. It won’t work. We have reached the nadir of a historically repeating cycle. This is a moment born of destiny.

Whitney Houston sang “I believe the children are the future,” but throughout history, the prevailing attitude has been that the sacrifice of the future of children, and the children of the future, is the predominant source of sustenance for the present population. Indeed, as I point out in my book Money Grows on the Tree of Knowledge, our own civilization has been built around the concept of stealing the wealth of the future, in order to manufacture artificial wealth to be enjoyed by ruling class adults in the present. In this book, I demonstrate that this is analogous to the story in Greek mythology of Chronos eating his own children to eliminate rivals and assure the continuance of his rule.


Saturn with his scythe, leaning on a cane

In alchemical studies, this myth is used as a metaphor for the production of gold from lead. In the book I demonstrate how the entire economy is built around alchemical processes, and that the central mystery of alchemy is child sacrifice. The alchemical process is a metaphorical formula for transformation that can be applied to all manner of different things. This includes the turning of the ages: the evolution of man, both physically and spiritually, through the passage of lengthy aeons of time.

In that book I talked about the concept that the Greeks and Romans had of the Golden Age. Their poets wrote of a four-step cycle of aeons that life on Earth went through repeatedly. Each age was named after a metal, and each was considered a devolution from the previous era. Some Roman writers said that the races which ruled each era were actually made of these metals. Sometimes these are said to be different races of “men,” although the accounts make it clear that the earlier races were not ordinary men, but gods, and the later races were the hybrid children of gods mating with humans.

The race of the Heroic Era (from which Hercules, Jason and Odysseus came) was such a hybrid race. Sometimes a fifth age was added, that of Stone, said to be the present age. The men of the present age were said to have been produced when the heroes of the Greek Deluge myth, Deucalion and Pyrrha, washed up in their Ark on Mount Parnassus. Allegedly, they pulled a cloth over their heads to blindfold them, and then threw stones behind their backs, which magically turned into human children, our ancestors. Ours is said to be a devolved version of the race of heroes, the divine DNA of our forefathers watered down with too much human blood.


Deucalion and Pyrrha creating the Stone Race after the Flood

However, what they all seem to agree on is that first was the Golden Age, in which, allegedly, the Earth was peopled by Gods, and Chronos (Saturn) was chief among them. But strangely, although he was Lord of the Earth, this was seen not as a time of autocratic rule, but peaceful anarchy. Saturn was thought of as the Lord of Unrule, and during this epoch, his subjects wanted for nothing. There was no money, nobody had to work for a living, and all things were held in common. It was a paradise in which everyone was free to do as they wished because there no lack, and therefore no need for involuntary compulsion through violent force. Or so it is implied.


Illustration from Goltzius based on Ovid’s description of the Golden Age

Because of this, Saturn was associated with the Liberty Cap (also known as the Phrygian gap), a soft red floppy hat like Santa Claus wears (without the fuzzy cotton ball at the end). In the Roman empire, the Liberty Cap was worn by slaves who had been set free, either temporarily or permanently. When the Romans celebrated his festival at the end of the year (Saturnalia), no work was done, public drunkenness was encouraged, rules against gambling and prostitution were temporarily suspended, and slaves were given furloughs from their duties, let to run about as free men, with the red cap of liberty on their heads. A temporary sovereign was elected to represent the Lord of Misrule, who would eat and drink like a king until New Year’s Day. He would give out gifts to children, and receive many gifts himself. In the earliest times in which this festival was observed, this king would “reign” (ritually) for a year, then be sacrificed at the end of next year’s Saturnalia. In Plutarch’s Lives, we read:

The Saturnalia was a feast celebrated on the 14th of the kalends of January Betide the sacrifices in honour of Saturn who upon his retiring into Italy introduced there the happiness of the golden age. Servants were at this time indulged in mirth and freedom in memory of the equality which prevailed in that age. Presents were sent from one friend to another and no war was to be proclaimed or offender executed It is uncertain when this festival was instituted.

Many aspects of these rites have survived into modern times. There are obvious parallels with our Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, as I discussed in Money Grows on the Tree of Knowledge. The character of Saturn or the Lord of Misrule is obviously now played by Santa Claus. During the season, children stay home from school and most people take significant time off work. They drink, overeat, and kill each other stampeding in competition for the opportunity to purchase toys (and not always to give to children). As I discuss in that book, the alchemically-designed economy is built to be dependant upon this annual display of excess consumption to fuel the financial machine for the coming year.


Saturn riding in his chariot

The New Year celebrations, with their drunken orgies, definitely stem from Saturnalian origins as well. This is proven also by the symbolism used in modern times to depict New Year’s time, with Father Time representing the old year and the New Year’s Babe representing the coming annum. We make “New Year’s resolutions” and sing “should auld acquaintance be forgot,” just as our ancestors used this time to wash their hands of their past sins by laying them instead on the heads of a sacrificial victim. This role was played by Chronos and Dionysus in ancient times, with the latter being referred to as the “Child in the Harvest Basket” — the basket in which the sun god was said to make his annual voyage through the heavens This is also the traditional time at which the birth of Chronos’ patricidal son Zeus was celebrated, “born at midwinter when the Sun entered the house of Capricorn” the goat, according to Robert Graves.


Santa Claus riding a goat, representative of Capricorn, the sign that rules the time of Saturnalia, with a child in a basket tucked under his arm

But there are other examples as well of the continuing celebration of Saturnalia. There is Childermas on December 26th, discussed in a previous article of mine, on which the Massacre of the Innocents is observed — a story linked by European alchemists specifically with the Greek story of Chronos eating his children. Then there is the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th, and the related celebration of Mardi Gras which begins with that feast. This is the day on which the “festival of the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles” is celebrated, and is traditionally the day on which the three magi came to the bedside of the baby Jesus bearing gifts.

On this day it is customary to bake “epiphany cakes” (or “king cakes”, as they are called in New Orleans), into which a tiny bean or token has been buried, representing the Christ child. Often it is a an actual plastic baby. Sometimes the cake itself is also made out of marzipan and formed into the shape of a baby. Each guest at an Epiphany party will get their own cake, but only one of them, chosen at random, will contain the baby token. Whichever guest gets the baby served to them is the “King” of the party, and will be treated to special party favors. (They literally shout “I’ve got the baby!” to everyone in the room when the token is discovered.)


A marzipan Epiphany cake in the shape of a baby

The downside, however, to being chosen is that the King has to clean up the mess at the end, or is responsible for hosting the party next year. The parallels to King Saturn eating his children, and the practice at Saturnalia of a temporary king being chosen for sacrifice, are obvious. So too are the connections between Saturnalia and Carnival, which is celebrated in New Orleans from January 6th until Ash Wednesday in March, when we begin to celebrate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. These traditions all date back to the 18th century. But it is said that the sacrificial king of the Roman Saturnalia was chosen in a similar fashion. The implication hidden in the rite is that the king chosen by lot is the one who eats the baby, just as Saturn did, but in so doing he seals the fate of his own doom. The fact that in Europe a sabot (a device used in firearms) was used for the token in the cake makes the implied threat even more obvious.


Mardi Gras king cake with plastic baby token

Another similar modern-day celebration is that of Vasilopita on New Year’s Day in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. The word literally means “King Pie,” although the holiday has in modern times been associated with St. Basil, who’s feast day is celebrated on that date also. There are many different versions of his story, but they all involve distributing cakes amongst the townspeople in which coins of various values were hidden at random. “Basil” means “king” in old French and Greek, so the choosing of this Saint to represent this day and this ritual cannot be a coincidence. The date is celebrated much like the Feast of the Epiphany, with a coin being the traditional token in the cake.

The details of the rite are rather interesting. A single cake is used, cut into slices, with one of them containing the cake. The cutting of the cake takes place at midnight on New Year’s Eve and involves everyone in the household. The sign of the cross is etched onto the top, and then slices are given out to everyone, the eldest receiving theirs first. It is also traditional to slice a piece to sacrifice to the Kallikantzaroi. They are described as having hairy bodies, hooves for feet, and sporting enormous erect penises, like tradition satyrs in Greek mythology. The name is said to mean “beautiful centaur,” named after the legendary creatures described as horses from the waste down but with the heads of men.

The Kallikantzaroi were believed to live underground at the center of the Earth, at the bottom of the World Tree, in Greek tradition. This is described as being a pole that holds the heavens apart from the Earth. These demons are said to be constantly trying to saw down the trunk of the tree so that it will collapse. But just as they are about to succeed each year, tradition states that on Christmas day, the sun “stops moving” temporarily. The Kallikantzaroi are released from their underground prison and come to the surface to torment human beings, which they do until the 6th of January. Then, on the Feast Day of the Epiphany, the sun is said to start moving again, and the demons become trapped underground once more. There they find that all of their work sawing the World Tree has been undone, and they must start over again.


The World Tree, where the Kallikantzaroi do their evil deeds.

So here we have a few interesting connections. For one thing, this information confirms my speculation in an earlier article that the tradition of leaving cookies for Santa Claus might be reminiscent of an older folk tradition in which food sacrifices were laid out to satisfy the Saturnian child-eating entity represented by Santa Claus, in hopes that he doesn’t eat the children instead. Indeed, the concept of a token representing a baby is being hidden inside of a cake specifically brings to mind the subterfuge of Rhea, Chronos’ wife, who substituted a stone for the baby Zeus when Chronos came to devour him as a newborn infant. Secondly, we have a connection between these bizarre Saturnian rituals at Christmas and the concept of global cataclysm, specifically the destruction of the Earth’s present polar configuration. I will get into this in more detail later on.


An ancient celebration of the Saturnalia.

The alchemist Fulcanelli wrote in The Mystery of the Cathedrals about the connections between the Epiphany Day rituals and the symbolism of alchemy. The child in the cake stands for the gold hidden within the lead (represented by Saturn), which must be divulged and refined through the alchemical process, like a soul being extracted from a human body. He writes:

As for the common subject of the Work, some call it Magnesia lunarii; others, who are more sincere, call it Lead of the Wise, vegetable Saturn. Philalethes, Basil Valentine and the Cosmopolite say Son or Child of Saturn. ….Therefore, brothers, if you pay attention to what I have said about the Epiphany cake (galette des Rois)… you will no longer have any doubt about the subject which you must choose; its common name will be clearly known to you. You will then be in possession of this Chaos of the Wise ‘in which all hidden secrets exist in potential’, as Philalethes asserts, and which the skilled artist will not hesitate to actualize. Open, that is to say decompose, this matter. Try to separate the pure part of it, or its metallic soul as the sacred expression has it, and you will have the kirmis, the Hermes, the mercury dye which has within it the mystic gold, just as St. Christopher carries Jesus and the ram carries its own fleece. You will understand why the Golden Fleece is hung on the oak, like the gall and the kirmis, and you will be able to say, without violating the truth, that the old hermetic oak acts as mother to the secret mercury. By comparing legends and symbols, light will dawn in your mind and you will know the close affinity which unites the oak to the ram, St. Christopher to the Child-King, the Good Shepherd to the lamb, the Christian counterpart of Hermes Criophorus (the ram bearer), etc.

Later on, Fulcanelli describes an image inside a cathedral involving a dragon which he says is, in code, depicted as using its flaming breath to cook a child inside of an athanor. This child is said to be a king, and the son of the dragon himself, through the rape of a human female, a princess. He says:

This monstrous beast, with the grace of some great lizard, used to embrace the athenor, leaving in its flames the triply-crowned little king, who is the son of its violent acts on the dead adultress. Only the face of the mineral child appears as it undergoes the ‘baths of fire’ mentioned by Nicholas Flamel. It is here swathed and tied up like the figure of the little ‘bather,’ still found today in Epiphany cakes.

Fulcanelli says that the child Mercury, the Philosopher’s Stone, shut up in the prison of the athanor, is like the baby imprisoned within the epiphany cake:

Even the very pastry of the cake obeys the laws of traditional symbology. This pastry is flaky and our little bather is shut up in it like a book marker. This is an interesting confirmation of the matter represented by the Epiphany cake. Sendivogius tells us that the prepared mercury has the aspect and form of a stony mass, crumbly and flaky. ‘If you look at it closely,’ he says, ‘you will notice that it is all flaky.’ Indeed, the crystalline layers, which form this substance, lie one above the other like the leaves of a book….

He then goes on to say:

The popular expression to take the cake means to be fortunate. The one who is fortunate enough to find the bean in the cake has no further need for anything; he will never lack money. He will be doubly king, by science and by fortune.


Drawing depicting the Feast of the Epiphany with king cake ritual.

So the message is that the fortunate one is the one who eats the baby, because he gets to be king. But his luck is soon to run out, because as we know, at the very earliest roots of this ritual, it is the king who pays the price at next year’s Saturnalia rite. This is the central mystery upon which all of our social institutions are based. This pattern can be found within society in numerous ways, and can even be measured over the course of vast aeons of time.

As I stated in Money Grows on the Tree of Knowledge, there is a moral dilemma implied in the story of Chronos/Saturn. Saturn is associated with liberty, and a Golden Age of peaceful anarchy. Yet we know that in order to maintain this form of rule, he killed his own children to prevent them from growing up to overtake him. The only reason the Golden Age was so golden was because Saturn’s children were paying the price of the sacrifice.

But this is par for the course. Chronos himself had overthrown his father Ouranos, castrated him and imprisoned him in the depths of the Earth. Chronos too had narrowly escaped death as a child, since his father had also tried to kill all of his children at birth, for the same reason. In some versions of the myth, Ouranos tried to keep them from being born by imprisoning them within the mother’s womb.) Since their mother was Gaia (Earth), this meant that they were shut up in Tartarus, the lowest chamber of the underworld, called “the prison of the Sons of Earth,” this is also where the Titans were jailed by Zeus after he overthrew them.

Here is the meaning of this myth. Chronos (“Father Time”) had lived and ruled (or “unruled) for untold aeons in a timeless realm before the coming of Zeus. In this realm, there could be no begetting of offspring, or else there would also be death. Thus the birth of children had to be prevented, either by confining them within the womb — as Ouranos did — or by swallowing them at birth — as Chronos did, attempting to negate their existence by confining them to another womb of sorts: his gullet.

This is exactly what the story of the Garden of Eden indicates. Adam and Eve live in happy, timeless ignorance. They are the children of a god who remains, to them, invisible, and they are still shut up inside the womb, or within their father’s gullet. There, they live as parasites, forming a symbiotic relationship with their host, who provides them with all of the sustenance they need. Then one day, a foreign fruit is introduced to them from outside. They are told by their father, the unseen god, not to eat it. But they do anyway, and it initiates in them an awakening to the reality of what they are involved in. Their eyes are opened. They wake up from the dream and realize that they are slowly being digested. At that moment, they are vomited out into the cold, cruel, outside world, forced to work for their daily bread, fighting for survival. With their birth, or perhaps, their second birth, the passage of time is finally allowed to begin.

As we read of the passages of the various ages, from Golden to Silver, then to Bronze, Iron and (some say) Stone, we understand that the transition from one aeon to the next is always marked by a revolution of a similar sort, in which the disenfranchised son of the king, the rightful inheritor to the throne, escapes death and overtakes his tyrant father. If the father is a divine god-king (as in the oldest myths), he doesn’t really die, but instead falls into a death-like sleep and is imprisoned in the center of the Earth. There he waits to be avenged and reincarnated in a new king, reigning over a new age.


Another depiction of the Golden Age

What these myths of the Golden Age, Garden of Eden, and other primordial paradises really point to is the concept of a cosmic center: a kingdom that doesn’t really exist, except in the Otherworld, in potentia. But it is said to be at the heart of our own existence, and its essence can be felt everywhere. It is a place where there is no time as we know it. Rather, all points of time exist simultaneously, and all space as well. This is why the people who live there are said to never grow old. Presently, in our own time, we perceive it as fallen, like Eden, Atlantis, or the sunken R’lyeh of H.P. Lovercraft’s stories. But the legends state that that there will come a time in the future when a new age will dawn, and the hidden, sunken kingdom will rise again, the old king reborn to rule again, instantly transforming our own mundane world into the timeless paradise formerly relegated to the Otherworld.

This is exactly how the relationship between Osiris and Horus was viewed by the Egyptians. There was never a time when Osiris was really alive ruling his kingdom on Earth. From the earliest times he was thought to be in the center of the Earth, in his tomb at the center of the World Mountain. His son Horus ruled on the surface as his reincarnation. But it was the existence of the undead Osiris in the underworld that gave Horus’ throne its legitimacy.

This is also how the realm of the Fisher King is described in the Grail romances, who, like Ouranos, has been castrated, and now rules over a kingdom out of time. He can never die, but isn’t really alive. Only the food from the Grail keeps him alive in this in-between state. His wound will never heal, but continually festers, and grows worse whenever Saturn is ascendant in the heavens.

We also find hints in the romances that the food of the Grail, which keeps the king alive and the rest of his subjects in perpetual youth, is in fact the flesh and blood of children. That this is what the “Elixir of Life” is made from is hinted at also in the alchemical texts of Europe, and in many myths from throughout the world. I explore these ideas at length in Money Grows on the Tree of Knowledge. This is the fruit of the Tree of Life that the gods of Genesis sought to prevent man from obtaining, lest we “live forever.”

In Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, the knight Gawain is sent on a mission by a hermit who looks young, although he is 75 years old. The mission is to find the sword that John the Baptist was beheaded with, which he will need to enter the lands of the Fisher King. The sword belongs to a pagan king named Gurguran, who promises Gawain that he can have it if he will rescue the king’s son from a giant who has kidnapped him. Gawain kills the giant, but the boy is strangled to death in the process. Then, in a strange rite, Gurguran chops his sons body into pieces and distributes them to his subjects to eat. Gawain then receives the sword and is led to the Grail banquet at the Fisher King’s court, where 12 knights who are hundreds of years old (reminiscent of the 12 Olympian gods) sit around a banquet hall, all looking youthful except for their grey hair.


The Golden Age, with Saturn or Chronos shown flying overhead in his chariot, eating a baby

The reason why the hidden kingdom always exists, but never really, except in potentia, is because it is the place where time began. Yet if there is no time, how can there be a beginning? Therefore through paradox and logical fallacy it negates its own existence. Such is the case with the land of Nod, the wilderness land where Cain was exiled to, and where he built his kingdom. His descendants shared the same names as those of his brother Seth, save for a single letter, indicating their non-being. The chronology of their birth is slightly different than that of Seth’s descendants because time has no meaning where they are.

Cain, like Saturn, lived in perpetual fear of being killed by one of his descendants in revenge, as it had been prophesied, according to tales recounted in Louis Ginzberg’s book Legends of the Jews. Thus in Genesis Cain cries out to God in lamentation that he must forever remain in hiding, a “fugitive and a vagabond,” because “Whosoever findeth me shall slay me.” This eventually transpired when he was killed by his descendant Lamech in a hunting accident, since Cain’s horns, given to him by God supposedly as a protective mark to keep him safe from murder, caused him to be mistaken for an animal and shot — yet another dirty trick from Jehovah. Then, having killed his own ancestor, while hunting in the wilderness of the timelessness of Nod, Lamech, and all of Cain’s descendants, ceased to be, or to have ever been. From that moment on the Bible acknowledges them no more.

This is exactly how Edith Hamilton summarizes Homer’s description of the underworld of the dead, Hades, in his epic The Odyssey, according to her classic book Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, where she wrote:

In Homer the underworld is vague, a shadowy place inhabited by shadows. Nothing is real there. The ghosts’ existence, if it can be called that, is like a miserable dream.

But the underworld is just part of this nebulous realm of the gods, which is clearly separate from our own world, and yet accessible from certain parts of our world, and in some ways strangely entangled with it. This larger divine realm came to be termed “Olympus” by the Greeks, but the exact meaning of this term is hard to specify. As Edith Hamilton explains:

The twelve great Olympians were supreme among the gods who succeeded the Titans. They were called the Olympians because Olympus was their home. What Olympus was, however, is not easy to say. There is no doubt that at first it was held to be a mountain top, and generally identified with Greece’s highest mountain, Mt. Olympus in Thessaly, in the northeast of Greece. But even in the earliest Greek poem, the Illiad, this idea is beginning to give way to the idea of an Olympus in some mysterious region far above all the mountains of the earth. In one passage of the Illiad Zeus talks to the gods from “the topmost peak of many-ridged Olympus,” clearly a mountain. Even so, it is not heaven. Homer makes Poseidon say that he rules the sea, Hades the dead, Zeus the heavens, but Olympus is common to all three.

These are details common to just about any description of the popular motif of the World-Mountain, found in almost every culture around the globe. It is the location of the World Tree, and the pole that holds the heavens aloft from the Earth. The depths of the mountain’s caverns and the roots of the tree reach down into the lowest level of existence, while the top of the mountain, and the top of the tree, reaches the highest level of heaven in existence. Summarizing this entire body of legends from around the world, Julius Evola wrote in The Mystery of the Grail:

These are first and foremost symbols of centrality: the center, the pole, the region in the middle of the earth, the central stone or the foundation, the magnet. Then, symbols of stability: the island surrounded by the waters, the rock, the unshakable stone. Finally, symbols of inviolability and inaccessibility; the invisible or not-to-be-found castle or land, a wild mountain peak, a subterranean region. Moreover, the ‘Land of Light,’ the ‘Land of the Living,’ the ‘Holy Land.’ Yet again, all the variations of the golden symbolism, which, on the one hand, includes all the notions of solarity, light, regality, immortality, and incorruptibility while, on the other hand, it has always had some relationship with the primordial tradition and with the age characterized by gold. Other symbols point to ‘life’ in the higher sense of the word (e.g., the ‘perennial food’; the ‘Tree of Life’), to a transcendent knowledge, to an invincible power; everything appears variously mixed in the fantastic, symbolic, or poetic representations that in the various traditions have foreshadowed this constant theme of the invisible regnum and of the Supreme Center of the world, in itself or in its emanations and reproductions.


The Grail castle as the hidden kingdom at the center of the universe

But according to several different researchers specializing in several different fields, long before, and long after, the Titanic Golden Age was conquered by Zeus, and the cosmic pole renamed Olympus, the ancients thought of the magical realm of World-Mountain as being associated with Saturn. As Joscelyn Godwin writes in Arktos: The Polar Myth:

Ancient Iranian astronomers identified the pole as ‘Saturn’s womb,’ and so did the neoplatonists of Greece.

Julius Evola concurs, writing of the kingdom at the pole that:

Moreover, according to a classical tradition, after having been the lord of this earth, the king of the Golden Age, Kronos-Saturn, was dethroned and castrated (that is, deprived of the power to beget, to give life to a new stock); he still lives, though asleep, in a region located in the Far North, close to the Arctic Sea, which was also called the Cronid Sea.


Castle of the Grail by Ferdinand Knab

Here we touch upon what is perhaps the most mind-blowing concept hinted at in this whole collection of myths that we are presently examining. Saturn’s kingdom, because it’s timeless, is still there, enclosed within a prison of timelessness, surrounded by space-time. His death-like sleep is, in fact, the prison itself, for as Plutarch writes, “his slumber had been artfully produced in order to chain him, and round about him were many dæmons for his guards and servants.” His dreams are the shackles which bind him. Like the blissfully ignorant children of the Garden of Eden, he is bound in a hypnotic state by his own illusions. He has switched places with those he devoured. Plutarch writes about Saturn’s hidden kingdom of dreams, which he describes as being on an island, in his Morals. I find it worthy of lengthy quotation.

… the barbarians fable that Saturn is imprisoned by Jupiter, whilst his son lies by his side, as though keeping guard over those islands and the sea, which they call ‘the Sea of Saturn.’ … That sea-coast of the mainland Greeks are settled on, around a bay not smaller than the Mæotis, the entrance of which lies almost in a straight line opposite the entrance to the Caspian Sea. Those Greeks call and consider themselves continental people, but islanders all such as inhabit this land of ours, inasmuch as it is surrounded on all sides by the sea; and they believe that with the peoples of Saturn were united, later, those who wandered about with Hercules, and being left behind there, they rekindled into strength and numbers the Greek element, then on the point of extinction, and sinking into the barbarian language, manners, and laws; whence Hercules has the first honours there, and Saturn the second.

Plutarch then goes on to describe a strange sacrificial rite in which the “servants of Saturn” are sent out on perilous voyages to this island, where they serve him for a period of thirteen years, after which they have the choice of staying in his realm or returning home. However, it is unclear in what capacity they “serve,” since Saturn’s is a realm of “abundance without toil and trouble.” It seems to be more of a philosophical academy, akin to the “Philosophic Kingdom” of Sir Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis. Interestingly, in that book Bacon used an illustration of Saturn unveiling the naked Lady Venus in her secret tomb in the Venusberg (a mythical mountain almost identical in description to Saturn’s island). This is a Hermetic symbol of the unveiling of the secrets of nature through alchemy, and it is said that whoever unveils Venus is cursed to remain a prisoner in her underworld kingdom forever within the caverns of her enchanted mountain at the center of the Earth, where she rests in a death-like sleep, “vivit- non vivit,” just like Saturn.


Illustration from the New Atlantis

On Saturn’s island, the god teaches them by communicating through apparitions and dreams. That’s also how he keeps them on the island. He keeps them in a state of enchantment, just as Venus is said to do to the young men who visit her secret realm. As Plutarch describes it:

But when the star of Saturn, which we call the ‘Informer,’ but they ‘Nocturnal,’ comes into the sign of the Bull every thirty years, they having got ready a long while beforehand all things required for the sacrifice and the games … they send out people appointed by lot in the same number of ships, furnished with provisions and stores necessary for persons intending to cross so vast a sea by dint of rowing, as well as to live a long time in a foreign land. When they have put to sea, they meet, naturally, with different fates, but those who escape from the sea, first of all, touch at the foremost isles, which are inhabited by Greeks also, and see the sun setting for less than one hour for thirty days in succession; and this interval is night, attended with slight darkness, and a twilight glimmering out of the west. Having spent ninety days there, treated with honour and hospitality, being both considered and entitled ‘holy,’ thenceforward they voyage with the help of the winds. No other people inhabit the islands save themselves and those that had been sent out before; it is, indeed, allowed to such as have served thirteen years in waiting upon the god, to return home, but the greatest part prefer to remain there, partly out of habit, partly because they have all things in abundance without toil and trouble, as they pass their time in sacrifices and hymn singing, or in studying legends and philosophy of some sort. For wonderful are both the island and the mildness of the climate; whilst the deity himself has been an obstacle to some when contemplating departure, by manifesting himself to them as to familiars and friends, not by way of dreams or by tokens, but conversing with them in a visible form with many apparitions and speeches of genii. For Saturn himself is imprisoned in a vast cavern, sleeping upon a rock overlaid with gold; for his sleep has been contrived by Jupiter for his chaining—whilst birds fly down from the rock, which are ordained to carry ambrosia to him, whilst the island is overspread with fragrance, diffused from the rock as from a fountain. Those genii wait upon and nurse Saturn, who had been his companions at the time when truly he used to reign over both gods and men; and they, being endowed with prophecy, foretell, on their own account, many things, but important matters, and such as concern the highest things, they go down into the cavern and report as the dreams of Saturn; for whatsoever things Jupiter is devising for the future, Saturn dreams what they are about, and that which is kingly and divine. The stranger having been carried there, as he told us, and waiting upon the god at his leisure, he gained acquaintance with astrology and geometry as far as it is possible to advance, whilst he took up ‘natural science’ for his department of philosophy.

This is the “Invisible College” that the Rosicrucians wrote about. It is the Scholomance of Dracula, which (the story goes) 13 specially-chosen students would attend each year to learn magick from the Master himself, but only one would graduate and be permitted to “ride the Dragon.” This is the same as the Devil’s school that witches attend when they go to the Sabbath, when they rise the broomstick or the goat, just as Jason rode the Golden Ram to safety. So too did Mohammed ride the woman-horse Barak on the Night Journey to the “furthest mosque,” after falling asleep on the magical pillow-stone that fell from Heaven, which was the foundation-stone of the world, and which became the cornerstone of the Kaaba, the holy cube. So too did Jacob glimpse the ladder to Heaven in a dream, after sleeping on the stone of Bethel (the house of God), the royal betyl or “thunderstone” that was also said to have fallen to Earth from Heaven. This is the same as the alchemical “Magnet of the Wise,” the metaphorical lodestone that guides initiates to the sacred island where the otherworld is located. Or rather, perhaps, we should consider that the Magnet attracts to the initiate the transcendental location he seeks to find. It brings the hidden kingdom to him, transforming the designated space that he happens to be standing into the sacred space of the Otherworld, where Saturn lies, dreaming. According to Julius Evola in The Mystery of the Grail:

We have seen that of all the places in which the tests of the Grail’s knights occur, the ‘Island’ and the ‘Castle’ seem to be in the forefront. The journey to such places should essentially be regarded sub specie interiaritatis, that is, in terms of a shift of consciousness to a world that is usually precluded to human beings.


In its polar character this kingdom is immobile. It does not get closer to various points in the flow of history; rather it is the flow of history, to which men and kingdoms get more or less close.


Depiction of the Invisible College as a contained vehicle

What we really have here is the concept of the sorcerer’s magic circle, which is drawn on the floor in chalk when conjuring spirits. Of this there are two types. One is meant to contain demons within it, so that you can safely conjure one and talk to him without the possibility of him getting loose or harming you. Supposedly, the demons cannot step outside of a properly prepared magic circle. In this way, it can be thought of as a bottle for holding a genie, much like the Ark of the Covenant was a container for the spirit of God. The word “Ark” means “container,” and is the root of a family of words in several different languages that mean “coffin,” “prison,” “boat,” and “secret.” This is what Saturn’s island prison/tomb really is.

The other type can be thought of more as a traveling vessel. The magician places himself within the circle, and then he can safely travel to unseen astral realms without harming his mortal body. The universe around him is transformed, but he retains his own little bit of his home reality within the circle. In this sense it is similar to a magic carpet.

This, I think, is what Noah’s Ark really was. It was a Hermetically-sealed vessel made of magic, that allowed Noah and the other passengers to be raised up into a higher dimension so that, while the world transformed around them (dissolving into the prima materia of chaos, the primeval ocean), they stayed safe within. When they exited the Ark, they were literally in a whole new world. This is how the hero in all of the global cataclysm myths from throughout the world makes it through the trial.

In the oldest version of the tale, from Mesopotamia, the Flood hero, Utnapishtim, was told of the impending deluge from spirits who spoke to him through the walls of his house. They then instructed him on how to turn his own house into a vessel, in the shape of a perfect cube. Similarly the Kingdom of God or “New Jerusalem” in St. John’s Revelation is a flying city in the form of a perfect cube. This must certainly be connected to the “cubic stone” of the alchemists.


Utnapishtim in his Ark

In Mystery of the Cathedrals, Fulcanelli takes the last chapter to talk about alchemical concepts of the Apocalypse. He speaks of the destruction and regeneration of the world as though it were an alchemical transformation, in which humanity must die, be dissolved into chaos (like the Philosophic Mercury) and be reborn. This discussion is sparked by his analysis in that chapter of a strange monument called the “Cyclic cross of Hendaye,” found in a church courtyard in Basque France, Fulcanelli writes in Mystery of the Cathedrals that:

Whatever its age, the Hendaye cross shows by the decoration of its pedestal that it is the strangest monument of primitive millenarism, the rarest symbolical translation of chiliasm, which I have ever met. It is known that this doctrine, first accepted and then refuted by Origen, St. Denis of Alexandria and St. Jerome although it had not been condemned by the Church, was part of the esoteric tradition of the ancient hermetic philosophy.

By rearranging the oddly-spaced letters of the message on the cross’s stand — “O crux ave spes unica (Hail o cross, the only hope)” — he obtained the following, hidden message: “Il est ecrit que la vie se refugie en un seul espace” (“It is written that life takes refuge in a single space”). The meaning of this, says Fulcanelli, is that:

… a country exists, where death cannot reach man at the terrible time of the double cataclysm. As for the geographical location of this promised land, from which the elite will take part in the return of the golden age, it is up to us to find it. For the elite, the children of Elias, will be saved according to the word of Scripture, because their profound faith, their untiring perseverance in effort, will have earned for them the right to be promoted to the rank of disciples of the Christ-Light. They will bear his sign and will receive from him the mission of renewing for regenerated humanity the chain of tradition of the humanity which has disappeared.


Depiction of the Flood from the Metamorphoses of Ovid

So Fulcanelli believed that we really are heading towards an Apocalyptic event, and that messages predicting it are embedded in this monument. Moreover, he thought that alchemists and other “elite” would be able to decode the symbols left behind by the initiates of the past to figure out a special country or “space” where they will be safe from the cataclysm.

In the next installment of this series, we will talk about the possible connections between Saturn’s hidden kingdom and catastrophic Earth changes in the distant past, as well as the future. We will get into concepts of how the calendar may have been different during the Golden Age, and how it may change again in the future due to dramatic alterations in Earth’s magnetic field. We will talk about Saturn as the “Magnet of the Wise,” and the idea of a “Black Sun” at the center of the Earth that was thought to be responsible for generating this mysterious force.

Later on in this essay series, we will examine the type of governance represented by Saturn. We will examine the historic role that this figure was believed to have played as one of the early conquerors and civilizers of the Italian peninsula. We will also talk about stories of the alleged lost kingdom of Atlantis, and the possible connections with Saturn’s Golden Age kingdom. We will consider the conceptual relationship between our world and the hidden world, to see if we can shed any light on why our social institutions operate the way they do.

The place which seems the most solid is perhaps the most unstable. We have a tendency to forget that we live on a volcano, at the center of great forces of strength … all is accomplished in accordance with well-determined cycles. A ‘Navigator’ guides the ark [‘arche’] in the flood … We do not subscribe to the conventional and erroneous astrology. The stars in themselves exert no influence. They are but reference points in space.

– “Chyren,” a.k.a. Pierre Plantard, from the magazine Circuit, 1959

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *