To the alchemist of antiquity, Lead/Saturn represents the Prima Matera (primal material) or base matter. Lead/Saturn to the alchemist of old had qualities of putrefaction, decay, limitation, protection, and self control.
To the ancient Greeks, Saturn was the god Coronus, Cronos, or Kronos the father of the gods. Cronos was of the first generation of Titans and overthrew his father, Uranus, during Greek's Mystical Golden Age. His mother, Gaia, gave him a stone sickle, which he used to castrate his father Uranus. To the Greeks, Cronos was the god of the harvest and of time.
The Sanskrit word for Saturn is Shani. Shani to the Hindus of old represented learning the hard way, career, longevity, and contraction. Shani was also seen as the cosmic judge, judging everyone based on their good and bad deeds.
In the present day, caskets are still often lined with lead. Lead as an element is also deadly to all life forms on our planet.
To the alchemist of today, Lead/Saturn is the personification of the ego, which must be purified in order to free the soul. It is through the transmutation of Lead, that the alchemist transforms from a being ruled by carnal desires into man or woman in tune with the laws of nature. This allows the alchemist to live a life within the will of the divine. It is through the lessons of time given by Saturn that alchemists transcend the cycle of life and death, becoming beings filled with light and life that shine as bright as pure gold in the rays of the sun.