Saturn, the Great Malefic (a misnomer)

Saturn, Cassini Spacecraft Photo

Saturn, known as Shani in Vedic Astrological terms, has been nick-named “The Great Malefic” in nearly every culture’s astrological tradition. I find this to be the result of incomplete understanding of the importance of time scales in relation to both causal and concurrent events.

In the case of causal events we understand the relationship between cause and affect such as the effect of the moon’s gravity on tides. Events that possess a concurrent or coincidental nature are so-described due to our inability to assign a cause. The latter include the obstacles, obstructions, delays, and difficulties that often accompany Saturn’s movements through the zodiac on both an individual and collective level.

I find it helpful to remember the words of the father of Western logic, Aristotle, who said, “Just because we cannot explain the causal relationship of coincidental happenings doesn’t make them any less real.” I also remind myself that there was a time when the Moon’s phases and apparent size were seen as concurrent and coincidental with tidal measurements because humans lacked the since acquired understanding of the physics involved.

Over my next few posts I’ll explore the concurrent effects of Saturn’s movements, the astronomical conditions known to the Vedic Sages (Rishis), and the higher purpose of Saturn as discussed in mythology and through karmic principles. I have come to view Shani as one of the two most important elements in Jyotish in terms of the long-term journey of the energetic, eternal self—the Atman—that transforms repeatedly in and out of material consciousness on the path to complete understanding and ultimate freedom.

Rather than seeing the challenges of Saturn as punishment for past misdeeds or the dispassionate response of a distant and uncaring power, Saturn appears to be the force that redirects our trifecta self (body, mind, spirit) back on the path to transcendence and transformation when our attachment to material forms (ego) causes us to stray from the greater purpose of our Creation.

By using the power of time, the weight of inertia, and the patience of eternity, Saturn increases our capacities to experience the suffering of self and others in order to become agents of healing for all.

Having posed the argument I’ll leave you with a photo from NASA’s Cassini-Huygens spacecraft showing a closeup of Saturn’s shadow crossing its rings. There is much to ponder concerning the nature of this shadow and the other elements of the photo, both seen and unseen.

“Om Sham Shanaishcharaya Namah”

One thought on “Saturn, the Great Malefic (a misnomer)

  1. I had missed this post somehow and went looking for it. A fascinating story. The addition of the photo of Saturn’s shadow crossing its rings is a perfect touch.


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