Traditionally Saturn is called the greater malefic. It is considered cold and dry as its nature. When we look at planets we find that according to the Greek writer Ptolemy they had various natures, these natures were combination of the following qualities, warm, moist, hot, cold, wet, dry. Warm and moist were good qualities, they promoted life. Cold and dry though, this is not supportive for life. Thus Saturn was classified as the greater malefic.
Where Saturn is in you chart, there is suffering. A burden, something you must deal with. It is one of the ways we look at Saturn. When Saturn conjuncts, squares, or opposes a planet in your natal chart, it is considered to damage the goodness of that planet. That is how hard Saturn is. It hurts goodness in your chart. What do we mean by goodness, really we mean ease. Yes, if something is easy, it is good. This is the standard. So people say Trines are good, because they are easy. Squares and Oppositions are bad because they are hard. Now, we modern astrologers like to say that Trines are too easy. that Squares represent opportunities to grow, and Oppositions represent opportunities to understand.
What do we say about Saturn, how do we spin it positively, well one way is we say it is where one becomes disciplined. That if you master its discipline it is where you become very talented and capable. Where you can move mountains with your capacity. But you must master its discipline, because Saturn wants you to work where it falls in your chart.
Also, a brilliant astrologer, Tsering Everest, she likes to say Saturn is Emptiness. This is in opposition to the Luminaries, which are fullness or form. This is a great way to think about it to. It is also referred to in Horary astrology as the end of matters. Emptiness is the end of matters…isn’t it. We could even say that emptiness is the end of matter.
In an esoteric sense Saturn is considered resting the mind. Where Saturn is, shows you a practice you can use to rest the mind. For instance, Saturn in the 5th might indicate work as an artist, and the capacity to rest the mind through work in that realm. What can one do with emptiness…rest the mind in it.