When a transiting planet comes back to the same degree it was at the time of your birth, it opens a new chapter in your life. A cycle begins, with fresh growth opportunities and new life lessons to experience. The nature of that planet determines what those will be; the movement of the planet determines the length of that cycle.
Think about your birthday. Each year has a certain vibe, and often the events that unfold around your birthday can establish the main themes of the following 365 days. This is your Solar Return, and it happens every year, as it takes the Sun 365 days to return to the degree it was at the time of your birth.
The personal planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars) move more quickly and make their returns sooner than Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The Moon returns once a month, the Sun once a year, Mercury and Venus a little less than a year, and Mars every two years. The more distant planets orbit the sun more slowly. As a result, these planetary returns can mean big changes in your life. At times, they may even feel like crisis points, as you close one chapter and start a new one. They can also mark significant turning points in your life.
The Saturn Return happens every 29.5 years, and it is one of the most significant planetary returns. The choices you make during your Saturn Return year will have lasting consequences, for better or worse, for years to come.
Before we delve into the Saturn return, let’s first look at Saturn’s role in your chart and its astrological significance.
In your natal chart, Saturn represents your core limitations, challenges, and fears. Yet, Saturn doesn’t want you to remain stuck in a rut of limiting forces. No, it wants to push you to move through limitations, overcome challenging circumstances, and face fear. In moving through these with courage and resolve, you gain mastery, amend karma, and triumph!
Look at Saturn’s placement in your natal chart. Its sign indicates our greatest ambition as well as the blocks we face in realizing that ambition. We are often driven to work toward the aim of our Saturn sign. For example, I know a number of individuals with a drive to become writers who have Saturn in Gemini, the sign of communication. Yet, Saturn does not indicate natural talent or what comes easily to us. Instead, it shows what we work toward, often overcoming our limitations in the process. Those with Saturn in Gemini often take classes to master the art of writing, and then have to overcome writer’s block.
To accomplish a goal driven by natal Saturn, you need structure, discipline, accountability, and consciously applied effort.
The house in which Saturn is located in your natal chart is the area of life you’ve come to master. This is where you will face most of your life challenges, but it is also where you will find ways to give back to the world and achieve success. This is where much of your learning takes place. For example, I have worked with clients who have Saturn in the fifth house (the house of children and creative expression) who had children later in life because there was both a deep desire (ambition) but also a fear of the work involved in raising children. For several of these clients, fertility issues were a manifestation of that fear. In working through the fertility issues, they strengthened their resolve and committed to bringing children into the world. They felt purposeful in the pursuit of their desire. One client even went on to work as a doula to support expectant mothers as a result of her fertility journey.
So, you can see the importance of Saturn’s role in your chart. I like to think of it as being like that teacher in school who wants you to do really well but will push you to your limit to do so.
Jupiter and Saturn are our “social” planets, in that they represent the social structures that shape our ego in early childhood. If we view the Sun as the ego, Saturn is the structure we set into place to protect the ego. It’s formed from the network of cultural norms, societal beliefs, family messaging, rules, laws, and religious dogmas that shape our psyches. We form these structures unconsciously in the first seven years of life, but they inform behavioral and relationship patterns that play out throughout our lives.
You know that critical, judgmental, or negative voice in your mind? That’s often the Saturn part of yourself. If you were to identify the messages it plays on repeat, you might be able to trace them back to ones you heard throughout childhood. This is one way Saturn makes itself known. The key to working with Saturn is to listen to its voice and relate with it. Then, restructure what no longer serves you.
The ego structures represented by your Saturn can feel like limiting forces in your life, but they can be dismantled and reconstructed. This is one of your tasks throughout your Saturn Return year.
FIRST SATURN RETURN
Your first Saturn return occurs when you’re 29 and a half, but you’ll likely feel it for the year leading up to your 30th birthday.
During your first Saturn return, you have a chance to dismantle those structures and start to build and shape new ones— ones that resonate with you and the life you want to create. It’s your astrological “coming of age.”
During your Saturn Return year, you take charge of your life. You start to let go of fear or worry about what your parents, friends, mentors, or family members think about you or your life. You feel more driven to accomplish something for yourself, whether that means traveling the world, buying a house, getting married or divorced, writing a book, having a child, or something else that requires a deep commitment.
Saturn lets you know what you’ve outgrown, and it invites you to let it go if necessary. As you might imagine, letting go can be difficult, and you may face crisis points throughout your Saturn return year. If you do, rest assured, Saturn always usually offers rewards for good effort. Stay on path!
You could even have strange health issues come up unexpectedly and then subside after your thirtieth birthday. There are usually mind/body connections for these.
We all have limiting ideas or beliefs that transfer into fears. They can delay you from moving forward or taking action. They can make you feel stuck. It’s important to note, though, these are often perceived and not real. Once you face your fears and move through, you take a giant step forward toward actualizing your most expansive life possible.
How you move through your Saturn return depends upon Saturn’s placement in your chart. Is it a weak planet? Is it in hard aspect with other planets? Is it in an angular house? These factors all help clarify whether your Saturn return will be challenging or rewarding. Chances are, it will be both!
SECOND SATURN RETURN
Your second Saturn return happens at age 59, right before your 60th birthday. During the first Saturn cycle, you build and construct your adult life, and the second Saturn return offers you the chance to review the decisions you made and appreciate the life you’ve built. You can celebrate your successes as well as envision future goals. This is a whole new chapter for you, and you might experience this personally, professionally, or both.
Here, you also have a chance to face the fears and limitations associated with the aging process. You may encounter health ailments or feel physically tired. This is Saturn’s way of allowing you to slow down and think about your life. You might need to establish new priorities or restructure certain areas of your life. In doing so, you can let go of unnecessary stressors and allow yourself to have more free time.
I have worked with a number of clients making career changes during their second Saturn return, and this is a great way to use the energy of this transit. Some have even retired or decided to scale back their work hours to spend more time with family.
Where the first Saturn return is often about coming into your own, the second is celebrating yourself and all you’ve achieved. If you have not achieved all you had hoped, this cycle helps motivate you to keep going. Yes, you will face some of your greatest fears. In doing so, you can release ego structures to better align with your higher self.
Things to do in your Saturn Return:
Grow up and take responsibility for your future
Fall in love
Do the thing you fear the most (as long as it’s healthy and safe)
Own it! Have confidence
Stretch beyond your comfort zone
Apply for your dream job
Invest and save
Make your mark
Take care of your health
Stop worrying about what others think
Prioritize your goals
Let go of the past, embrace the present
Be true to yourself in all ways
Things Not to do in your Saturn Return
Focus on pleasing others
Make fear-based decisions
Shy away from commitment
Fear abandonment or rejection
Spend money on things that won’t last
Give into worries
Give up on something for which you’ve been working
Drink or do drugs to escape reality
Give up on life