Few references strike so much terror and anxiety in hearts as those relating to Saturn; ominous terms such as; sade-sati, ashtam-shani, panoti and dhaiyaa. Eastern and western astrological lore has generally treated Saturn with awe and fear. Described as uncouth, ugly, defective in body (particularly lower limbs), old, unforgiving, cold-hearted and stern, Saturn has generally epitomized punishment and karmic reprimand, reprieve from which is difficult to obtain.
And, yet, one runs into descriptions that extol the strengths of Saturn and how the influence represented by it can shape our lives and destiny through imposed limitations and through boundaries sometimes set by oneself but mostly by others or by society in general. While generally believed to be a 'taker' of life, peace, health and all that is beautiful and comforting, Saturn has also been associated with a Mahapurusha yoga, known asSasha yoga when the planet is placed in an angle from the ascendant (and some consider from the moon as well) in a sign which is its own, moolatrikona or its seat of exaltation, in other words, Capricorn, Aquarius or Libra, respectively.
Of special significance, thanks primarily to propaganda generated by devotees of the temple of Gloom and Doom, is the phenomenon of sade-sati, a period during Saturn's transit which extends from the time it enters the 12th sign from the lunar sign in a chart until it leaves the 2nd sign from the natal moon. When Saturn enters Taurus soon, the sade-sati for those with moon in Gemini would begin and this would last until such time when Saturn leaves cancer, the second sign from Gemini. Saturn transits each sign in about 29.5 months and crosses three signs in about 7 and a half years, hence the reference to sade-sati (7 and a half). It is almost as if during such a transit, the natal moon is in the grip of the taskmaster, Saturn. The moon represents ones mind, the primary stage where one plays with reality, where one perceives it and where expressions emerge. In many ways, Saturn is opposite to the moon. It has been described as dry, devoid of light and unemotional, lazy and slow, deliberate and unkind. Its influence is malignant, unrelenting and dreadful.
Astrologers are a curious bunch and love to harbor diversity of opinions, often backed by information coming down to us through tradition, and sometimes through other means, as well. Some jyotishis insist that it is not the sign but the house that matters. There is, depending on which drummer one follows, a difference in the houses and signs in a chart, with far fewer choices usually utilized by jyotishis (compared to their western colleagues). For determining the boundaries of a house in a horoscope, one may use the entire sign as a house, or utilize the rising degree as the mid-point of a house and then choose the equal house division (each house extending 15 degrees on each side of the degree in each sign that is corresponding to the rising degree. To simplify the example, if the 15th degree rises in the east at birth, then each house will extend from 0 degrees to 30 degrees of each sign, consequently, in this case the whole sign would represent the house. Other choices are also available. Those using the Sripati variant (very similar to the Porphyry division used in tropical astrology) would erect slightly different houses because this system takes two points into account, namely, the rising degree and the degree that is at the apex (right overhead) at the place of birth, also known as the medium coeli or M.C. In this system, houses can vary in size depending on the latitude of birth and, some signs may not rise at all at extreme latitudes. These are known as intercepted signs in western astrological terminology.
A minority group of astrologers, notably the famous Marathi astrologer, Katveji recommended using tighter orbs when examining sade-sati. According to him, sade sati starts when Saturn is 45 degrees behind the exact degree of the natal moon and ends when Saturn crosses the point that is 45 degrees ahead of the natal moon. This 90-degree wide zone is followed by many and shows up as an option in software that is commonly used by jyotishis, as well. By shaving off 5 degrees on each side of this orb, one notices another interesting phenomenon emerging. The way navamshacharts are defined; each navamsha is 3d 20m wide and planets cycle within a 40-degree zone (this encompasses 12 navamshas, one cycle of the navamsha micro zodiac, in other words). It follows that planets that are 40 degree apart are in conjunction in navamsha. When Saturn comes to the sign that is 12th from natal moon and when it is 40 degrees behind the natal moon, in navamsha, it would conjoin the moon in navamsha (in transit). As Saturn moves through the next 40 degrees, it would make one complete revolution of the navamsha chart and conjoin the moon again (in navamsha and in rashi). Then by the time it makes another revolution and yet again joins the moon in navamsha, it would have gone ahead of the natal moon by another 40 degrees. This 80-degree zone is when the sade-satiinfluence is experienced strongly. Actually, the zone can start a bit earlier or later (and leave a bit earlier or later accordingly) depending on whether the natal moon is in early or later part of the 3d 20m zone in the navamsha sign. Now Saturn takes a little over 6 and a half years to transit this 80-degree zone (and not 7 and a half as is traditionally described for sade-sati). This is not a clever ploy to shave off a sometimes well-deserved one year off Saturn's grip over the moon, but an empirical observation that bears promise. In all fairness, not everyone is slated to experience the harsh whiplash of Saturn, nor is the grip something that would be constant throughout the period. So, readers may take heart!
Ominous, though it might have sounded to some, this description of sade- sati as being a state where "Saturn is gripping the moon" indeed jives with what many people actually experience during their sade-sati periods. The level at which it would manifest and be experienced would depend on many other factors, such as, the role of Saturn in the chart, in terms of its natural and temporal significance, its strength and associations with other factors in the horoscope, etc.
While on one hand Saturn claims our attention to learn to work hard at ourselves and to avoid short cuts, on the other hand it also requires us to work in a detached manner, like a karma-yogi. One tends to get lazy, or discouraged and begins to skip on efforts when the efforts seem to far exceed the goal. This 'attachment' to the goal and tailoring of ones work to match the outcome is worshipped in our modern society as efficiency, but this may not be what Saturn's message to us necessarily is. Although we talk of and readily accept the concept of timelessness of spirit and of lifetimes affecting other lifetimes, we often tend to lose that 'lofty' perspective when misfortunes strike! This is very natural because we are created and cultivated in a manner that seems to emphasize our focus on the moment that is here now and the timeframes surrounding it, and yet, the theme of karma and destiny makes complete sense only when the full album, rather than a few photographs from the travelogue of the incarnating soul are taken into consideration.
Through continually reminding ourselves, and through having faith in a Greater Wisdom that guides us fully only after we throw ourselves at Its feet, not out of a need to appease some Divine Ego that demands total subservience, but so that our receptiveness to this Supreme Energy and what it bestows upon our soul can open up fully only when we manage to efface our 'selves' completely. Unless we realize this in the depth of our inner sanctum, all the clever words in the universe would not help us rationalize and work ourselves into that state of experiencing divinity. In fact, quite the contrary may be generally true! And, some days will be harder than others, but that is why we have been granted the boon of timeless existence and endless lifetimes (although the karmic 'tuition' tends to increase, they say, the longer one takes to complete the curriculum!).
Paradoxically, Saturn initially creates within us the faculty of discrimination, the separation, between the self and the rest of the Whole, and this may actually lead to a setting for so called saturnine lessons. When the schism is dissolved, and oneness restored, through our own efforts and attitudinal changes, the higher resonance of Saturn can be tapped into.
Increasingly, there seems to be a growing impatience in the world. There is so much emphasis on vicarious learning, of learning by proxy! Easier ways, short cut techniques, efficient gateways to spirituality, paved highways of spirituality cut through the mountains of spiritual rigour that 'guarantee' to carry one in style straight to the Other Side! These have nothing to do with Saturn. When Saturn is the companion, the journey tends to be slow and plodding. One may choose to be anguished by the slowness and harder climb, or may utilize the extra time gained by indulging in introspection, and in gaining trust in a Greater Wisdom that looks after one. One may choose also to utilize the extra time gained due to the slowness of progress in pursuits which have an added measure of conservatism, carefulness and working on ones accuracy. These represent the traits and attributes of the astrological Saturn.
Limiting any desire for gains that always dissipate before the desire does, is a sure fire way to get on the good side of Saturn. Greed arises from insecurity and an overwhelming sense of impermanence, of their being not enough time or opportunities to gain something or gain it back or gain it eventually. The soul grows restless and the stage gets set for Saturn's scythe to land on ones castle of dreams. Paradoxically, what one desires to gain must first be given away, freely, without any shrewd games and selfish motives. But, one must act proactively if one wishes to avoid the darkness that Saturn is often infamous for casting on ones psyche. Rushing to the remedial temple after the blow has been received is already too late.
In a chart, each planet represents some symbolic feature, an icon of awareness or focusing of ones consciousness and energy. Saturn represents the points where our focus must be in a practical, earthy way, a zone or area where our selfishness and immediate needs must be put aside. Likewise, areas which fall under Saturn's signs in a chart would tend to be ones which we might shy away from, or be too lazy to work on, but areas that need our attention and step by step work so that our karmic script is fulfilled. Areas (or houses) from which Saturn is placed in the 6th, 8th or 12th from, are also areas of work and which deserve our care and attention. If Saturn is a functional malefic in the chart, then lessons are harder and more difficult to accept and to begin working on. If Saturn is benefic or neutral, then opportunities arise for learning in a milder fashion.
The harder that ones grip is on materialistic pursuits and the stronger that ones desires are, the firmer is the grip of Saturn on such a soul. Working towards experiencing a greater sense of being united with and being part of the creation is good for spiritual growth and as one grows, one can indeed outgrow Saturn!
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