The tangled holiday skein

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In planning our chapter’s inaugural event, Io Saturnalia (a solstice ritual in honor of yule), we deliberately tapped into the weird melange of ritual celebrations that have accumulated in the later half of December. Indeed, the days before and after winter solstice are treated very much like branches of a Christmas tree, with every culture and religion looking for an open spot on which to hang its ornament.

Krampustag, Sankt Nikolaus Tag, Hanukkah, Yule, St. Lucia‚Äôs Day, St. Stephan’s Day, Christmas (both Eastern and Western), Day of the Innocents, Synaxis of the Mother of God, Solstice, Festivus, National Maple Syrup Day…

But of all of these, one stands to the Satanic eye: that is Saturnalia.

In the Roman pantheon, the god Saturn is second only to Pluto when it comes to being dire of manner and dour mien. Consider this description of Saturn’s powers and domain found in the medieval grimoire The Picatrix, written in the 10th century:

“First we will speak of Saturn. Saturn is the source of the retentive virtue. He rules profound sciences, and the science of laws and seeking out causes, and roots of things, and their effects, and speaking of wonders and understanding deep and secret qualities. Among external organs he rules the right ear; among internal organs, the spleen, which is the source of melancholy. Among clothing, all black clothing; among places, black mountains, dark rivers, deep wells, and desert boundaries and places; among metals lead, iron, and all metals that are black and smell bad; among animals, black camels, pigs, apes, bears, dogs, cats; among small animals, all those that are dry and stinking. Among colors, he has all dark and tawny colors.”

Are you telling me that Saturn is the god of both science and Goth clothing? How cool is that? And very much in line with the aesthetic of modern Satanism. And isn’t it interesting that Satan is often represented using goat horns and imagery, and Saturn is often represented by the image of a satyr, who has goat horns and goat legs? Does it seem worth noting that Satan is known for being a rebel against arbitrary authority, and Saturnalia is celebrated by role-reversals where the powerless and the powerful swap places? Could really be just a coincidence that Saturn is the god of science, and Saturnalia was traditionally a celebration of freedom of speech?

Yes, that last one probably is just a coincidence, actually. But it’s still cool.

From the perspective of modern Satanism, Saturn really is an icon to be celebrated: dark, rebellious, pro-science, smelly…. and ready to party at the end of the year.

Now that’s my kind of god. Hail Saturn, hail Satan.