Shani (Saturn), sixth from the Sun and the most spectacular graha in the Solar system. Shani is best known for its extensive ring system that makes everyone open their mouths in awe. It is the farthest planet visible from the earth (through naked eye), everything beyond Shani is a vast space of darkness (state of oblivion). Hence Sage Parashara didn't give much importance to planets that are not visible through the naked eye (perception matters). This is also the reason why Shani is said to be the hoarder of darkness, in other words, the graha that controls all that is unclear/less clear aka the graha of secrecy and chaos. Shani is the slowest graha, taking almost 30 years to revolve around Surya (Sun). Thus, it is the graha of long term events (anything that takes a long time). It’s also a gas giant much like its close neighbour Guru (Jupiter). This makes it act like a Guru at times. In fact they both act like each other on various occasions.
Lord Shanishwara (Shaneshchara)
Lord Shani is the creator God of this graha so we can see all his characters imbibed by this graha. He’s also called Shanishwara due to his ardent devotion towards God Shiva (Ishwara). He’s the Son of Lord Surya. Shani has a dark, smoky appearance inherited from his mother Chhaya, who is the shadow/illusion of Sanjana (the wife of Surya). Upon knowing this, Surya denied Chhaya and Shani. This created an enmity between both of them, due to this, Lord Shani became distant from Surya and took the responsibility of representing everything opposite to Surya.
“Surya is light and Shani is dark, Surya is clarity and Shani is confusion, Surya is the King and Shani is the Servant, Surya is hot and Shani is cold. We need this polarity (duality) to have a society. Otherwise the world will collapse.”
Lord Shani is greatly feared by the masses due to him being the beholder of long pending karmic duties. Even Gods and Goddesses are not an exception to this. There are numerous stories about Shani Dev as to how he makes even great empires fall due to their bad karmic debts. It is said that your karma has to pave a way so that even Gods can bless you if they want to. So Shani's blessings are very important to be blessed by other Gods. It was a genuine fear in the beginning so people were vigilant on their actions but overtime it became an unnecessary fear, due to which they started doing more and more bad deeds. The fear made them forget that he’s the first one to bless you when you achieve something great. That's why he’s ruling the natural 11th house, Aquarius. Shani makes one pay their karmic debt even after centuries and many reincarnations. Thus he’s called the karma karaka, the significator of karma. He’s tamassic in nature because tamas makes you bind to materialistic pleasures, so that you will be bound to pay your karmic debts in time. This makes him a dire malefic, a manipulator (but remember, he manipulated our souls, so we came back again, if our souls didn't like the earth we wouldn't have taken birth again). We need Saturn's deep binding energy so that we can enjoy and live our life to the fullest.
Shani represents tangible things such as people and the society in general, old people, servants, underprivileged, rebels and opponents. Intangible things such as time, duty, karma, devotion, dedication, servitude, hardwork, chaos, secrecy, rebelliousness, longing, illness, laziness and lethargy. Shani’s spectacular eye catching rings shows its ability to soar to heights from an underprivileged background.
These significations and important points mentioned here can be used to understand Shani in a chart. The difference between finding a good and bad Saturn is based on the dignity of the planet in a chart. A person with strong Saturn can be a workaholic, committed, duty bound, a good subordinate, a kingmaker, activist, social worker and a politician. Weak Saturn can make one lazy, lethargic, ill, talkative, over-confident, fearful, anxious and over thinking.
Shani is a male graha but it represents everything opposite to Surya including femininity, hence it became half-male and half-female aka a neutral graha. It matures at 36th year. That's when you’re fully matured as a human being. Also the numbers six, eight and 33 are important.
Exalted in Libra and debilitated in Aries
Ruling signs are Capricorn and Aquarius
Gets directional strength in the West (7th house)
Ruling direction is West
Associated colour is blue and black
Ruling deity is Yama
Shani represents vayu (air) and the body parts are knees and joints
Exaltation and Debilitation of Shani
Saturn attains exaltation in the sign of Libra. It's the only place where it feels most powerful.
To better understand this, let's imagine Shani (Saturn) as a living entity and think of his requirements to become powerful.
Shani is the opponent of Surya. Shani believes in liberalism, he always expects others’ ideas and opinions before making a decision. Libra is directly opposite to Aries, it is the natural 7th house where Sun sets and nighttime begins. This is enough to say that it's Shani’s favourite domain. Shani was abandoned by his father which made him long for a unionship (Libra, natural 7th house) but also despises his family (8th house Taurus). He became the representative of duality due to his father (9th house Gemini). He cares for and supports common people esp. who are underprivileged due to familial, financial, societal constraints (4th house Capricorn). His most valuable resource is his old age (2nd house Scorpio, longevity). He keeps all his worries and sorrows to himself (2nd house Scorpio, secrecy) and spreads his wisdom through his words and actions (3rd house Sagittarius). He’s rebellious against the established order (Surya) and sees order in chaos, he fights for everyone and doesn't bother if it means destroying the formal order (6th house Pisces). He’s a workaholic who doesn't look for comfort except when others tell him to do so (10th house Cancer). His actions are making him rise to heights like Surya (11th house Leo).
On the other hand Aries is the debilitation sign of Shani where he’s forced to act like Surya so its easy to understand the opposing nature. Aries requires swift actions. Saturn is neither quick nor can decide for himself. This lack of abilities makes him ponder all day (4th house Cancer). He wants to work all the time for the upliftment of the underprivileged and not be on stage under the limelight (2nd house Taurus). He has to work only for a specific set of people (6th house Virgo) instead of the masses who're in oblivion (12th house Pisces).
So this is how Aries deprives Saturn of its requirements.
Note: I've written this exaltation/debilitation concept after years of observational research and contemplation.