Shani Dev is the Hindu god of Saturn and tragedy. He is often considered quick to anger and often cruel, but it is my personal belief that this is a misunderstanding. Shani Dev’s lessons are crucial to spiritual enlightenment in that he is responsible for challenging one’s ego and harshly teaching them humility. It is often a painful but completely essential journey in life.
He is especially powerful during the Sade Sati, or the seven and a half year period in which Saturn is closest to the Earth in its twenty-one year orbit. We recently completed such a cycle, the most recent Sade Sati having ended in January 2017. Whatever your beliefs, it’s difficult to argue that 2016 wasn’t an especially grueling year. The belief in the baleful effects of Saturn span across multiple cultures, and it’s my belief that someday science will be able to explain the gravitational pull of Saturn and its effects on the human body which, being around 70% water, already freaks out enough on every full moon (again, the effects of the gravitational pull).
Here Lord Shani is pictured as embodying Saturn itself. His eyes are closed, limiting his dreaded gaze, while his hand rests over his third eye. His other hand grips his broken ankle, the origin of which differs depending on belief. His limp is why he is named “The Slow One” (as well as Saturn’s long orbit around the Sun). A personal touch I added is that I accidentally drew his back with a hump from scoliosis. I unwittingly gave him the back most familiar to me: my own. Still, I decided not to change this, as scoliosis and back surgery are tragic obstacles that have humbled me and made me a better person. It is also my personal belief that Shani Dev in some way feels the tragedy he puts people through, and that he suffers with them. When they learn from their suffering and forgive their offenders, Shani is at peace.