Saturn Returns and How to Cope

[Cover art by the author]

Saturn Returns, and the various perspectives and controversies surrounding the phenomena, is a HUGE topic. Something that would perhaps be more thoroughly covered by a professional astrologer. But because several of my most beloved and I are currently going through this particularly tricky phase, and because it’s made us all very anxious and occasionally super whiny, I figured it would be helpful to reflect in public about this common struggle.

WTF is a Saturn Return?

For the uninitiated, a Saturn Return is an astrological phenomenon that happens a few times in a person’s life, and it’s known for wreaking all sorts of existential havoc.

Saturn, which was at a certain place in space on your original birthday, occupies that same location approximately every 29.5 years. As you may recall from high school science class, this is how frequently Saturn makes a full revolution ‘round the Sun. Thus, Saturn makes a second "return" at around age 58 -- and, if you live in Monaco, again at 89. 

Okay, fine, but why does this matter? How can a super far away gaseous ball affect me?

Well, according to astrologers, Saturn is in charge of some very serious life things -- think: discipline, wisdom, responsibility, etc. Or as Jeanna Kaldec, formerly of GirlBossWoo, explains:

"Saturn is the planet that rules our relationship to work, career, authority, time, restriction, limitation." 

So, when Saturn strolls back into your chart to hang out where it did when you were first squeezed out onto this spinning blue marble, aka Earth, aka Saturn's roommate in the group house that is our solar system, it can compel you to consider some major life changes.

You may begin to question your career path or contemplate moving across the country (or the globe!). You may want to set your world as you know it on fire and forsake all your possessions and become a woodland hermit witch (#goals). You may feel a yearning for identity and community, seeking an authentic place for your soul to call home.

Essentially, you will feel a need to re-invent yourself. To break free of whatever binds you. But to do so in a way that gets down to the root of who you are and what you want. You will want to return to yourself, so to speak.

Super intense stuff! 

Saturn through the Ages

Additionally, some astrologers note that the effects of Saturn’s Return can be felt as early as the waning days of age 27, and as late as 31. Kind of like how the full moon’s effects are said to be present the day before, the day of, and the day after the full moon event itself (I assume the same goes for the new moon? I hope so -- I vibe way better at the new moon).

My personal experience aligns well with this theory. Many of my friends, as well as my S.O., have felt especially angsty around this age, leading several to take on life-changing moves or start major transitions. I myself am contemplating all of the above mentioned and more: career change, physical environment change, wardrobe change, etc. Even fashion and blogging icon Leandra Medine of Man Repeller is getting restless. I may not know her personally, but I found her recounting of her struggle somehow relatable, despite her vast resources and luxurious lifestyle. 

My mother as well! Entering her late 50s, she also recently felt Saturn’s influence and, after decades of living in the Deep South, she picked up and moved across the country to rejoin the majority of her family. Together, we are also in the midst of investigating some fucked up family history involving a grandparent who was stolen by settlers and separated from his indigenous (Ojibwe) community. 

Again, intense and very serious stuff.

Aside from the Woo...

Of course, it's also very possible that the late twenties and mid-to-late 50s are simply times when people, in this modern historical era, tend to feel the biggest priority shifts.

The late twenties are typically, though not always, a time when folks have begun to establish themselves in their careers a bit, have some measure of stability vis-a-vis their professional outlook, and can actually start to make more informed choices about bigger life questions. More equipped than, say, in their early or mid-twenties, thanks to the accrual of knowledge, experience, and -- hopefully -- a little bit of savings.*

It's also worth noting that developmental psychologists posit that a person's brain isn't fully ripe until around age 24, therefore making "adulthood" pretty tenuous before then. 

By your late-50s, you've probably gotten used to the kids being out of the house for while (assuming you had any  -- totes cool if you didn't though!) and you’ve settled into your own space, your own rhythm once again. And, if you’re lucky,  you may also be starting to consider retirement options and mapping out how’d you like to spend the next few decades. As your physical health starts to become more demanding, prioritizing it alongside a more ease-filled lifestyle may become non-negotiable. Unless, of course, you’ve already been living with chronic illness or disability and have therefore been forced to contemplate some of this much earlier. 

What should I do?

So what does this mean for you?  How can you possibly cope with all this heaviness at such a critical stage in your adult life? 

  • My first advice: GO READ YOUR GD NATAL CHART IMMEDIATELY. If you haven’t read your natal/birth chart before, hold onto your butts and check out Astrodienst or Cafe Astrology  to get a mind-blowing but quick take. Or visit a reputable astrologer (I swear they exist) and get a more personal and interactive reading. Figure out what house and sign Saturn intersects with, and see what clues it provides about this chapter of your life. 
  • Second tip: Journal, meditate, pull tarot, visit a therapist, or get your ass into the woods or to a quiet beach (or to any nature in general), to, like, think about your life. Better yet, do all of the above, if you can! Some of these activities definitely require money and access, but others are free and ALL are super helpful. Are big existential questions scary? As hell. But, if you can’t sit with yourself and contemplate them, with patience and non-judgement, then it’s only sure to be a much more confusing and frightening time in your life. Take note of what comes up for you during these sessions, and...
  • Finally and most importantly: Take seriously what you want and need out of life and the shape and weight of your values. Essentially, take yourself seriously. And trust the changes that you decide to make. Even if you end up changing your mind -- that’s okay! We don’t know what something will be like until we try it on for size. We can daydream, estimate, and discuss with pals, but only you really know what you need. The key is to put in the effort and actually DO the thing. Commit to a change and, as we say in Arabic, yalla

Ultimately, only you know what feels like home. So when you sense that something is off, it's usually your intuiton whispering that change is needed. Saturn Returns will make the intuition's voice wayyyyyyy louder!

So, allow yourself the space to grow, to be wrong, to evolve. To honor yourself, however that may look.  

Most of all, don’t be scared motionless.

Don’t let fear translate to inertia, and then convert into regret. A Saturn Return is a challenging season for us all; remember that you're not alone. It can also be a rather exhilarating time, if you choose to see the radical opportunity that it holds!

What about you?

Are you 28 or 29 or 30, and do you want to throw paperwork into air like the person in this stock photo?

...And then run away to sail around the world for a year? Are you annoyed with how that escapist scenario may only really be possible for very privileged people? ME TOO. Or, are you feeling the complete opposite and think this whole Saturn Return stuff is a bunch of cacacrap? Let me know in the comments below!


* For the folks for whom savings and financial stability feel super out of reach, I can definitely empathize, as I am a lifelong poor person and I never thought I could ever know "comfortable." For y'all/us, I recommend lots of self love and acceptance. Poverty is the biggest root cause of anxiety disorders, and something I'm currently working to heal from. If you're interested, there is a really great podcast, Bad With Money hosted by Famous Poly Bisexual Gaby Dunn, wherein she investigates all things personal finance, using a pretty intersectional and highly critical lens, sensitive to concerns of poor and marginalized people. <3


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