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The Tough & the Tender: Sade-Sati

As well as its angst-creating passage through the Gandata zone, Saturn’s shift into Sagittarius, October 2017 affects everyone currently in Sade Sati (literally ‘seven and a half’ years), Saturn’s transit over the natal Moon and two adjacent signs. In Vedic astrology this passage is well-known almost to the level of common knowledge, and is respected for bringing hard work and karma by way of ‘emotional growth’. Western astrology treats the Saturn-Moon conjunction as a series of isolated hits­, which while important, does not have the same life-defining impact as in Jyotish, where if anything it has even greater importance than the Saturn Return.

In fact, Sade Sati is not described in any classical Jyotish text, even though the Moon is established as the most important among all special ascendants (see for example, BPHS 12:11). Saturn's transits to the Moon in particular have a special place in Jyotish lore and Sade-Sade has the intrinsic lunar quality of a 12th, 1st and 2nd house transit, irrespective of ascendant-based house. These three stages are successively:

  • Rising: Old structures and relationships breaking down (12th house)

  • Peak: A new start (1st house), and crisis

  • Setting: the aftermath and first material test (2nd house)

The Moon’s natural themes are stress-tested with lessons around emotional security, responsibility and self-sufficiency, compromise and sacrifice, relationship, parenthood and often women in general.

In early childhood, Sade Sati may involve moving home, a divorce in the family or losing a parent, or feelings of loneliness and alienation, or simply picking up on uncomfortable vibes. Kids with this transit have to grow up quickly, while teenagers and twentysomethings get a crash course in adult themes. For people of all ages Sade Sati brings a challenge to our core and sense of ourselves, where an emotional prop is removed and we’re thrown back on our inner resources. This may bring intensity to the point of melodrama - even if one is not naturally the dramatic or self-pitying type - where we feel singled out by a cruel fate. Often it is hard to pinpoint what the issue is, except we feel much wiser afterwards.

The Moon’s strength by sign, house and aspect, colours the experience, along with the presiding Dasha and Antardasha which will be different each time. In a Saturn sign, Capricorn or Aquarius, there may still be difficulties but with greater ultimate promise – people with these Moons tend to be inwardly tough, sometimes too much so. Take into account too any other planets in, aspects to, and Ashtakvarga rating of each of the three houses involved. One passage may spark a crisis, while the next represents vital seasoning and hard-won success: how easy, difficult –or fated - the experience is depends on our level of maturity. Probably we get a mixed bag, which like all Saturn transits, involves obligation, fate and grudging acceptance.

Those with natal Moon in Capricorn begin their Sade Sati phase in 2017, but it’s early days still and the experience will probably remain under the radar for now. The roots of the issues will sprout over the coming two years, come to full view 2020-23 and then subside 2023-25. The usual remedies apply to the Saturn-Moon period – yagyas for both planets are highly beneficial, increasing one’s emotional buoyancy on the lunar side, while smoothing out the coarse and heavy Saturn energies. Fasting, chanting and meditation are all effective remedies, and also an appropriate gemstone based on an assessment of the whole chart.

Por ejemplo, we do not have a timed chart for Harvey Weinstein, but his natal Moon in Sagittarius gives the archetypal house flavour. Sade Sati’s behind-the-scenes 12th house phase began for him as Saturn entered his Moon’s previous sign Scorpio in late 2014 – which significantly, was the last time the Weinstein Company had a hit movie (a classic Saturn morality tale, Harvey’s behaviour got ‘outed’ because people don't depend on him anymore). Peak Sade Sati going across his Sagittarius Moon 2017-20 is the peak ‘first house’ phase where he is exposed publicly, while the setting ‘second house’ stage 2020-23, will test whether he is rehabilitated or else remains a pariah and emblem for all Hollyweird’s sickness. Rich as he is, this phase may hit him in the pocket.

Donald Trump proves that even for a debilitated Moon, Sade Sati doesn’t have to be disastrous (at least not for him). Saturn in Sagittarius marks the third stage after its transit 2014-17 directly across his full Moon-Ketu in Scorpio, and though Trump has achieved his lifetime ambition as POTUS, he is also saddled with carrying the world’s projected shadow. Heckled and hated for everything he says and does, he must long for the relative freedom of running a business empire. The hysteria surrounding Trump may die down and matters improve as Sade Sati moves into its setting phase ahead of election year 2020.

Katy Perry October 25th 1984, 07:58am, Santa Barbara, CA

October 2017 marks the end of Sade Sati for pop princess Katy Perry, who has natal Moon-Saturn rising in Libra. This transit becomes doubly and trebly powerful in the ascendant, with also an exalted Saturn return. Perry’s Saturn-Moon 12th house transit began in late 2009, and the following year she met Russell Brand and got married in India. Their marriage lasted fourteen months and ended because she didn’t want to start a family - the classic Moon-Saturn dilemma for an ambitious and successful woman. By all accounts her divorce was traumatic, but she has maintained her star status and now speaks of her relief and happiness at being out of her twenties, no wonder.

There are so many past instances: Lady Diana’s Sade Sati 1990-97 covered her protracted and public divorce which almost destroyed the British Monarchy. John Lennon became a superstar during his peak Sade Sati to the 10th house in 1963, but in this year also gave him a shotgun wedding as an expectant father. Jim Morrison’s musical career coincided with Sade-Sati and his songs had recurring lunar imagery, not to mention his tangled love life and the general emotional intensity that surrounded him.

One may wonder if Sade Sati, like other Jyotish bêtes noir (Kaal Sarp Dosh, Mangalik) it is all it is cracked up to be: seven and a half years, really? Clearly the testing doesn’t remain at full intensity the whole time, but if nothing else, seeing Saturn-Moon in a long-term perspective puts our experience into context and makes us appreciate the gravity of the situation. Cursed, or character-building, most of us can assess ourselves pre and post this particular life episode.

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