We can have joy in our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope.
-Romans 5: 3-4
Sade sati is the commonly dreaded seven and a half year period of the transit of Saturn over one's natal moon and the houses adjacent to it in Vedic astrology. For example, a person with their Moon in Scorpio would begin sade sati when Saturn moves to 0 degrees Libra and end in the period when Saturn moves to 0 degrees Capricorn, that is a start date of November 2011 and end date of January 2020 (if Saturn retrogrades into the previous sign, the period will be a little longer). In this example the three phases of sade sati last while Saturn is in Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius. Saturn spends about two and a half years in each sign. Sade sati happens every 30 years, so takes up one quarter of our lives. This is an awfully long time to dread! If people are so consumed waiting for something negative to happen, they can miss the opportunities for personal growth and advancement that are available to them. Depending on the karma of the person, it can be the case that they experience the pinnacle of success in sade sati, for example Donald Trump got elected to be the President of the United States when Saturn transited over his Moon sign Scorpio in 2016. People can continue to receive promotions in their career, get married, become famous, wealthy or spiritually enlightened in this period. It depends on the motivation and strength of will of the person, their ability to endure adversity, and their past karma as seen through their chart.
Regardless of successes happening in life, sade sati can be difficult on the mind by making thinking more pessimistic and sometimes clinically depressed. It can incline towards comparisons of success between you and other people or feelings of wanting to give up. Other people could be overly critical and aggressive, and you could experience low self-esteem. This is even more so if one has a string of failures over and over again (which can easily happen in this period), nothing seems to be working out. The mind starts thinking, no matter how hard I try, other people keep stopping me from succeeding and even people who I thought were my friends really aren't there for me when I need them. These are natural feelings and occurrences of the period, but the key to winning this battle is to know why these feelings are arising and to be cognizant of staying faithful, optimistic and confident that your dreams will come to fruition when the time is right.
To the general public, sade sati is full of fear, anxiety and doom about what lies ahead. Some astrologers even propagate this view to collect more money from clients in recommending them to buy expensive astrological gems and pujas even if they have financial difficulties. I believe that a person who is in sade sati needs to be informed of its real potential in their specific astrological chart and empowered to make the best decisions they can. No two people will experience exactly the same effects in the same timeframes even if they have the same natal Moon sign. Although one would expect the transit of Saturn exactly on a person's Moon sign to be the most difficult overall of the three phases, this is not always true. It is true that Saturn within 10-15 degrees on either side of your Moon will cause psychological and emotional turmoil. At the same time, with regards to devastating and tremendously unfair external events it could be that Saturn's transit over the signs adjacent to your Moon sign bring them.
To have a comprehensive picture of the types of experiences you will attract, you need to analyze the whole chart to get the holistic overview. To make it more specific you look at the strength and favourability of Saturn and the Moon. The score in the relevant houses Saturn will go over, ashtakavarga, could shed insight into the extent of favourability of the affairs of that house. The dashas a person is in, the transits they are running, and the bhinnashtaka varga of Saturn and the Moon have to be looked at. There is also the Panoti Yoga to consider. Rarely will someone have a completely "good" sade sati or "bad" sade sati. The three distinct periods of Saturn's two and a half ingress through the signs adjacent to and including your Moon sign can give different results.
To assess strength and favourability of Saturn and the Moon, you look at which signs they are placed in. Are they exalted, in their own sign, moolatrikona, in a great friend's sign, in a friend's sign, a great enemy's sign, an enemy's sign or in their fall? Exaltation is the best condition, followed by moolatrikona, great friend's sign, friend's sign, neutral, enemy's sign, great enemy's sign and fall is the weakest. If the Moon or Saturn are in fall, see if they have neecha bhanga raja yoga to reduce negative effects and even replace them with positive effects. Examine how full the Moon was; the new Moon is least favourable (when the Sun and Moon are in the same sign) and the full Moon is most auspicious (when the Sun and Moon are in opposite signs). The Moon gains in favourability when it is gaining in light (waxing) and it becomes less auspicious as it starts losing light (waning). Saturn and the Moon both become more favourable if aspected by benefics such as Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, and less favourable if aspected by malefics such as Saturn, Mars, Ketu, Rahu and the Sun (although the Sun is only mildly malefic). Check the dignities of Saturn and the Moon in the 16 varga charts to see what the balance is between favourable and unfavourable signs, this will contribute to its favourability or lack of it in the rasi chart. While normally a planet is weakened by being in 0-1 degree or 28-29 degrees of a sign, if the planet receives good dignities in at least 8 of the varga charts it negates this weakness and instead makes the planet powerful.
The houses they are placed in and rule make a difference too. Houses 1, 5, 9, 4, 7, 10, the kendras and trikonas are favourable. Houses 2, 3, and 11 are neutral, but Saturn placed in houses 3 and 11 becomes more favourable as a person gets older. Houses 6, 8, and 12 are dusthana houses which give bad results. It can be the case that Saturn or the Moon rule a dusthana house but are placed in a favourable house, or rule a favourable house but are placed in a dusthana house, this gives mixed results. Remember to analyze the chart both from the lagna and Chandra lagna, and to use the navamsa. The navamsa becomes more important after the mid-thirties so if Saturn and the Moon are weak in the rasi chart, but strong in the navamsa, it will help. Remember that any planet in a mixed condition in the horoscope can give both good and bad results at different times in life when they get activated by transit or dasha.
The quality of a house can be further seen by samudaya ashtakavarga which tells you the relative favourability of one house compared to the other. For instance, a person with a score of 32 in the 10th house is likely to have an outstanding career/ public reputation and be formally recognized for their achievements. Scores 25 and below are weak, 26-30 is average to favourable, and above 30 is very favourable, the 12 houses must add to 336. The exception is the 12th house where it is better to have a lower score. If the score of the 12th house is not less than the score in the 11th house, it is much easier for a person to fall in debt and to be spending more than they are making. For the 3 houses Saturn transits during Sade Sati, it is preferred to have scores of at least 26 in each.
If a person runs Saturn and/or the Moon as their mahadasha or sub dasha, the effects of sade sati will be more apparent. If a person experiences their Saturn return (typically age 28-30 and 58-60) during sade sati, the effects of Saturn will be more intense. The Saturn return is not always a bad thing however, so intense can mean that it will amplify the success potential if that is what is indicated in the chart. If a person's Saturn return is not auspicious then a concurrent sade sati can mean double trouble. If the person is running a planet(s) dasha of unfavourable planets for their chart, that could make the sade sati worse. In contrast if a person is running two good planets, it will serve to soften the period and make it easier to succeed. The same can be said for transits; if a person is experiencing pleasant transits that are activating favourable placements such as raja yogas or dhana yogas in their chart, the effects of the period will be better. If a person is experiencing challenging transits such as Saturn conjunct Pluto or Pluto opposing the Moon, the effects of the period will be worse.
Every planet has a bhinnashtaka score in each house. This score measures the potential of the planet to give good results by transit in the house. Scores of 4-8 are favourable, 3 is neutral, and 0-2 are weak. The important consideration for sade sati is whether the Moon has the same or higher score than Saturn for that house. For instance if my Moon is in Leo in the 4th house with 6 points, it is best if Saturn has 5 or fewer points in the 4th house. I would also consider the points Saturn and the Moon give in my 3rd and 5th houses to assess the results of their respective two and a half year periods. If the Moon has less points than Saturn for any given house, it can be easier for Saturn to cause obstacles and grief during that two and a half year period. While it is desirable to have higher scores, a person can still do well if Saturn has 1 point in a house, as long as the Moon has 2 or more points.
Panoti Yoga assesses the transiting Moon's sign at the moment Saturn enters 0 degrees of a sign (referred to as Saturn's ingress). You are comparing the transiting Moon's sign to your natal Moon's sign to give insight into the favourability of that two and a half year period. If the transiting Moon is in the 1st, 6th, or 11th sign from the natal moon, the effects are bad. If the transiting Moon is in the 4th, 8th, or 12th sign from the natal moon, these are the worse effects. If the transiting Moon is in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th or 10th sign from the natal Moon the effects are good.
Astrological counting of signs begins with the sign and moves forward in the zodiac. To illustrate, if my Moon sign is Cancer, the 1st sign is Cancer, the 2nd sign is Leo, the 3rd sign is Virgo, the 4th sign is Libra, the 5th sign is Scorpio, the 6th sign is Sagittarius, the 7th sign is Capricorn, the 8th sign is Aquarius, the 9th sign is Pisces, the 10th sign is Aries, the 11th sign is Taurus and the 12th sign is Gemini. Therefore a person with their Moon in Cancer would have good effects phases if the transiting Moon at the time of Saturn's ingress was in Leo, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces or Aries. They would have a bad effects phase if the transiting Moon was in Cancer, Sagittarius or Taurus. They would have a worst effects phase if the transiting Moon was in Libra, Aquarius or Gemini.
Using Parashara's Light Vedic astrological software to calculate planetary motion, I've summarized the signs that the Moon has been in when Saturn changes signs from 1977 to 2052. Note that during these periods listed for Saturn enters, Saturn may have been retrograde in the previous sign (not listed) and that is why it looks like some of Saturn's phases are shorter or longer then about two and a half years. For instance, in April 2017 Saturn went retrograde, in June 2017 Saturn's retrograde motion took it into Scorpio, by August 2017 Saturn will turn direct and finally Saturn will enter Sagittarius by October 2017.
To use this table, locate your natal Moon sign under the Saturn enters column. Look at the Moon at time of Saturn's ingress column for the sign the transiting Moon was in for the row above your natal Moon, beside your natal Moon (same row), and row after your natal Moon. Keep in mind these dates were based on Eastern Daylight Time so if you are in a different time zone, there is a small chance the Moon could have been in a different sign at the exact time of Saturn's ingress. You would need an ephemeris or astrological software to be absolutely sure.
If I am looking at past dates and my Moon sign is Virgo, I would look at the Saturn enters column, scroll down to Leo, and find that it entered on September 6th 1977. That is the first two and a half year period of my sade sati. The Moon was in Gemini at the time of Saturn's ingress into Leo and Gemini is placed in the 10th sign from Virgo. Therefore the period between September 6th 1977 and November 3rd 1979 would have good effects. Saturn entered Virgo on November 3rd 1979 and the Moon was in Aries at the exact time of Saturn's ingress to Virgo. Aries is the 8th sign from Virgo and as a consequence the period from November 3rd 1979 to October 5th 1982 would have the worst effects. To check the final phase of my sade sati I see that Saturn entered Libra on October 5th 1982. At the time of Saturn's ingress the Moon was in Aries similar to the second phase of sade sati, therefore the period from October 5th 1982 to December 20th 1984 would have the worst effects.
As of August 2017, people who are currently running sade sati are those with Moon in Libra (since 2009), Moon in Scorpio (since 2011), and Moon in Sagittarius (since 2014). Those who have Moon in Libra are lucky to have had 3 good phases of sade sati in Panoti yoga. In their last sade sati from November 1979- December 1987 they had 3 good phases as well. Those who have Moon in Scorpio have had two consecutive worst effects phases in panoti yoga since November 2011 but will start a good phase in October of 2017. In their last sade sati, from 1982-1987 they ran two consecutive bad effects phases and their last phase from 1987-1990 gave worst effects. Those who have Moon in Sagittarius have had a bad effects period from November 2014- October 2017, and will continue to have a bad effects period from October 2017-January 2020. From January 2020 to April 29th 2022 they will have a good effects period. Those who have Moon in Capricorn will start their sade sati in October 2017 with a worst effects period until January 2020. From January 2020 to April 2022, they will have a bad effects period. Those with Moon in Libra will finish their sade sati in October 2017.
One should not feel excess fear if they are in a worst effects period. It can include significant health challenges, financial problems, career setbacks, lack of suitable employment, academic troubles in school, marital or familial issues, legal problems, battles with enemies, and overall feelings of unhappiness, isolation, depression, and grief. But it does not mean that success or happiness is impossible to achieve. Interestingly, out of all the Moon signs, people with their Moon in Scorpio have been hit the hardest in Panoti yoga in their current and last sade sati periods, where out of 6 phases of Saturn combined, 3 of them were worst effects, 2 bad effects and only 1 good effects. The Moon is fallen and therefore very weak in Scorpio because what the Moon represents is not a good fit for the traits of Scorpio.
Looking to future dates, the Moon sign Sagittarius will experience three consecutive worst effects phases from December 2043 to February 2052. The Moon sign Gemini will experience a bad effects phase from August 2029 to May 2032 and then two consecutive worst effects phases from May 2032 to August 2036. All other Moon signs will have at least one good effects phase within their next sade sati. Nevertheless it is the pressure of sade sati, and especially the bad and worst effects phases within it, that polishes our character and enables us to go to great heights. Consider this quote from world renowned healer John of God:
"I have been a gem prospector, and I know that the precious stone needs to suffer the process of cutting and polishing in order to reveal its beauty. Seeing a gem in its raw state, one would not give it any value, but once polished, its magnificence is revealed. Every son and daughter is a rare diamond of creation, but they must be polished, implying pain and suffering, in order to realize their higher mission and consciousness. The world passes through great transformations, consequently generating great suffering, so we must put our faith and trust in the One Supreme Being who is our God."
Worst effects is also to be considered in light of environmental factors. For example, take the hypothetical case of Leslie. Leslie is a Canadian university graduate in her late twenties who ran two consecutive phases under the worst effects of Saturn immediately after graduation. She is beautiful, bright, and ambitious, yet people far less qualified than her kept beating her in interviews. When she did find jobs they were short term contracts, some in her field and some not. However since Leslie lived at home, she did not have to struggle financially as her parents are upper middle class. She could afford to be unemployed between jobs, and used this time for working on her own small business. Contrast this situation with the hypothetical case of Ravi, a young man in his twenties from a poor family in India. Ravi is intelligent and very hard working. He had enrolled in university but because his father who was the sole income earner driving an auto rickshaw fell ill with a serious disease, he had to drop out and start working. He was unable to complete his studies during this time as he could not borrow the money from other sources. Even though Ravi and Leslie may have had the same Moon sign giving them the same sequence of the effects of Saturn, their realities are much different. As this example illustrates, the results partially depend on the strength of support one has from other people and the opportunities/ resources available to them.
If your chart indicates a spiritual nature, and you were born with Moon conjunct Saturn in the same sign, and especially so if the conjunction is within 10 degrees, you can be sure that you are an old soul. People who have a great degree of innate wisdom and strength, and who are able to withstand immense pressure and adversities tend to be born with this conjunction. It generally will delay material success until after age 31-32, but after that these people having purified their Saturn karma can rise to very high positions in life. The natal conjunction of Moon and Saturn also ensure that when you experience sade sati by transit, that you are able to deal with it much more productively than other people.
The takeaway from this article should be that analyzing the real effects of sade sati is a multi-step process with many astrological and environmental factors to consider. Breaking it down into three phases we see that there are various methods to objectively assess the prosperity and/or challenges of the relevant time frame. Despite how daunting it may look, even the worst sade sati periods have their hidden blessings! These testing periods that when passed through successfully allow God to take us to the next level of joy and abundance. This is the essence of the value of astrology; to act in accordance with the knowledge of the natural timing of the cycles in our lives.
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