I have this sense, somewhere between an intuition and suspicion, that most people have an affinity for this or that column as it is represented in the Tree of Life, this or that column through which they relate more easily to the divine. The talk of left- and right-handed work in some occult circles seems to be a somewhat simplified version of this. We can talk a bit, then, about the sorts of work in a similar fashion by examining some of the archetypes that attach themselves to these columns.
It isn’t anything hard and fast, in part because every part of the tree has an affinity with every other part of the tree, but it holds up well enough. If you follow the tree of life as I read it, you can think of each such column being crowned by both a sefirot and channel, a sefirot and a planet. The left hand has Binah and Mars, the right hand Chokmah and Jupiter, the central column Daat and Saturn. The General, The King, and, well, the King in Prison.
The King who is imprisoned and then raised up is a persistent leitmotif in the greater middle eastern diasporas, sometimes showing up in places we wouldn’t expect it (like Yoruba stories of Obatala wrongly imprisoned). There are also some potent expressions of it in life, too, whether we look to that in an extended sense like Martin Luther King Jr. in prison (king here applied more than metaphorically but less than literally) to Nelson Mandela (a proper king in the traditional sense of the term).
The way in which Saturn expresses itself in the union of these two roles, prisoner and king, tells us something about its nature. Saturn is the highest of the planets. There is none higher than it in the traditional celestial order. It is also the lowest because it is the top of a chain that opens into a wider and more encompassing mystery, the demiurge who is aware of sitting beneath the throne of one still higher.
Humble grandeur. It gives us an esoteric dimension to the saying of Christ, of the last being the first. Also a sense that Saturn in the western esoteric tradition has suffered from a troubling conflation with the left hand column, a troubling conflation with Mars, perhaps one that goes back to the conflation of Roman Saturn with the Saturn of the heavens. Or, perhaps, that the western mysteries themselves suffer from a deeper conflation within western civilization that has given Mars too free a hand.