Are you experiencing a Saturn return? Approaching one? Or maybe you're still trying to learn the lessons of a past return. Don't fight it, but learn to use it
There are some terms in astrology that even those who lack any in-depth knowledge — or a professed belief — in this ancient art have heard of. Almost everyone knows their astrological Sun sign, and can quickly tell you that they’re a Leo, or Scorpio, or maybe even a Gemini. Someone at the water cooler at work will likely blame Mercury retrograde if there are technical problems with computers or other communication systems.
And then there’s the Saturn return.
What is a Saturn Return?
The Saturn return has become so ingrained in popular culture that most have heard of this phenomenon. But just because they’ve heard of it, doesn’t mean they understand it. Do you?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already familiar with the qualities of Saturn, on at least a basic level. (Read our in-depth guide on Saturn to learn more.) This is a planet that’s considered the planet of karma. It shows areas of your life where you need to learn lessons, and you will face some challenges, limitations, and setbacks with those lessons. That’s why it’s known as the great teacher among other things. But what, exactly, are our Saturn returns trying to teach us?
When does the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Saturn Return Take Place?
A Saturn return takes place when the planet completes a full 360° around the zodiac wheel and returns to its original position in your natal chart. We are all familiar with this cycle when it comes to our Sun sign, because we know when we enter that period around our birthday, the Sun is back where it was at our birth, or in our natal birth chart. It takes 12 months for the Sun to make its rotation around the zodiac chart in astrology.
Saturn is another story. As one of the outer planets, Saturn’s trip through all the houses and signs takes considerably longer — approximately 29 years! So at the most, each of us will only have three Saturn returns in our lifetime and some only one or two, depending on our lifespan. That means we experience our Saturn returns at approximately ages 29, 58, and 87.
What Kind of Shifts Happen During a Saturn Return?
The shifts, or changes, you experience during a Saturn return vary widely between individuals with several factors influencing its effects. One of the biggest factors will depend on you — how you handle this challenging time. Will you rise to the occasion and learn the lessons a Saturn return is trying to teach you? Or will you spiral downward into depression, substance abuse, or other self-destructive mechanisms to cope with these challenges?
Someone very wise once said, “I’m on the verge of a breakdown or a breakthrough.” And that epitomizes the Saturn return at any age.
The Saturn return symbolizes a major turning point in our lives, and although we can experience up to three of them in our lifetime, the one around 29 is notoriously the most difficult for most people. First of all, as people mature and learn life lessons, they will likely be much more well-equipped to handle these challenges during subsequent Saturn returns. But at 29 years old? Not so much.
It’s also worth noting that a Saturn return can occur between 27 and nearly 30 years old, which puts a whole new spin on what many people call “The 27 Club.” Maybe those celebrities who died at 27 can serve as examples of people who couldn’t rise to the challenges of their Saturn return — they serve as a cautionary tale to do better.
A Saturn return also represents the completion of a major stage of life, such as when we’re transitioning from youth into full maturity during the first return. You could also compare this time to transitioning from the Maiden phase of your life into the Mother phase, before maturing into the Crone phase of life.
In fact, that’s a great way to view all the Saturn returns — as the Maiden, Mother, and Crone phases of our life. You can view each Saturn return as that transition. Around 58, many people experience empty nest syndrome and start transitioning from Mother to Crone phase — these are symbolic and not applicable to women only.
For some, this transition can cause anxiety and depression, but for others, they may embrace the opportunity for a new phase of life where they’re free to travel or pursue things that may have been on the back burner while they were raising their family, such as becoming a painter or writing that great American novel. So you can see that your Saturn return can have a lot of positive changes if you approach it correctly.
That doesn’t make it any easier — Saturn returns are difficult, but they can clear the way for a whole new approach to life that can be very fulfilling. For those lucky enough to experience a third Saturn return, you’ll likely be grappling with the issues resolving your final transition from this life.
What Does Your Saturn Return Represent Spiritually?
Every year, we celebrate the new year with New Year’s resolutions designed to get our lives back on track. Or we talk about how we reevaluate our lives during our midlife crisis. A Saturn return is similar but can be much bigger.
It represents that point in your life when you reevaluate where you’ve been and where you’re going. That encompasses everything from work, family, and spirituality — it represents a time in our lives when we may want to reboot and refocus on what’s truly important in our lives and the dreams we had as children.
It’s fair to say that for most people, with each Saturn return spirituality may become more important. While anytime is a great time to start a spiritual practice — such as meditation, yoga, or a formal spiritual practice like Buddhism — Saturn returns offer a great opportunity for spiritual renewal. It’s a time to focus less on the material things of this world and reach for a more mature spiritual approach to living.
How Should You Reflect on Your Saturn Return?
Each person will experience their Saturn return differently. It’s important to reflect on your life — where do you experience limitations and frustrations? What negative characteristics are you clinging to that you know you need to let go of? Are you engaging in self-destructive behaviors as a coping mechanism for challenges or traumas in your life? What do you fear?
The only way to heal these things is to face them head-on, and the Saturn return is going to help you do it. (Actually, it will make you do it!) That’s where Saturn excels in its teaching aspect — we simply have to be brave enough to face all those inner demons, learn from them, and let them go for good. That’s all Saturn asks of us.
Visit the Psychic Source Guide to Astrology for even more information about the Planet Saturn!