Saturnalia represents the cyclical nature of time, the imperishable spirit of mankind, and the elder lord of the black sun who imposes mortal limitations upon his kin. Thus is granted the gift of mortality, from the one who devours his children, and thus does he manifest the sacred dimension of life.
Without death, rebirth is not possible. Without rebirth there is no cycle, there is only stasis. The imbalance of no-change is not deathlessness, but the disharmony of nothingness. It is the turning to stone, the cooling, the distance from the fire. There must be the shadow to have the light. As the shadows of winter loom over us, this is a time of renewal and family gatherings, to contemplate on the mysterious and eternal, to seek the approaching luminescence of the rebirth.
Lost as we are in consumerism, many have long forgotten the spiritual character of this season. They ignore the imperishable dimension of the soul, the rebirth from death, and how the unseen manifests a sacred order in this world, through the force and currents of invisible tributaries. But without the limitations of Saturn, without the scythe of the reaper, transcendence cannot be a reality, as every coin must have its flip side. Only in dead-to-the-eye modern Disney movies and other progressive cultural flotsam is there ever a pure black-and-white idea without a flip side, without a shadow. Living things, and real ideas, all have paradox, and the stronger the paradox, the stronger the thing.
Saturnalia is about mystery-reverence for the connection between the world of the spirit and the world of the mortal. It is the ritual itself which is important, more so even than its theological specifics; it is a sacred ritual and space for family gatherings. It culminates in the lord of time harvesting the old for the new, and death becomes a new beginning. The purpose of this time is to cherish the sacred limits of your life, while thinking always on the eternal. The clock ticketh onward.
The wise man seeks death all his life, and for this reason death is not terrifying to him. – Socrates