If you're in or approaching your late 20s, you're likely to hear murmurs about the ominous Saturn Return. If you're brave enough to inquire, you'll get the message that you should be afraid, very afraid. But the purveyors of fear probably won't give you any helpful information about what to expect -- or, more importantly, what you can do.
So let's look at what's actually happening. Saturn takes approximately 29 years to orbit the Sun. Therefore, when you are about 29 years old, Saturn returns to the part of the sky where it was when you were born -- your Saturn Return.
In Astrology, Saturn is the Cosmic Taskmaster -- the demanding teacher who presents you with obstacles and challenges so you can gain strength and wisdom. Saturn's position in your Astrology birth chart reveals your major life lessons, as well as the fears you have to overcome to achieve success.
Saturn also represents what's important to you, and shows the goals you are here to pursue, based on your values. When your actions -- especially your work in the world -- are aligned with your inner Saturn, you experience a sense of integrity and satisfaction. When you're out of alignment, you feel Saturn's shadow -- restriction, lack and fear.
Committing to your calling
Your Saturn Return -- which typically kicks in around age 27 or 28 -- is a time of coming into alignment with your life's true path. Work tends to be a major theme, and many make significant career changes during this time.
Don't think that you're "too old" to take your work in a new direction, or even go back to school for training in an entirely different field. Saturn rules longevity and old age and wants you to imagine yourself at age 80, looking back on your life. What do you want to have accomplished? What will you regret not doing because you were afraid to take a risk?
Saturn will give you very clear signals if you're not aligned with your calling and pursuing your passions. Feeling stuck, depressed, frustrated and/or jealous of other people's careers are signs that it's time for a change. Those who ignore the signs and resist change could be forced by circumstances into a new line of work. Saturn is the "tough love" planet, whose lessons can feel harsh. However, whatever losses you experience during your Saturn Return are really helping you in the long run, compelling you to come into integrity with your truth.
Because your Saturn Return is typically a time when you have to "make your own luck," don't expect work opportunities to come falling out of the sky. Be willing to be humble and start small. If you're interested in pursuing a new path and don't yet have the experience to land a paying job, then volunteer your time. If you can't afford to go back to school full-time, start by taking a class at a community college.
When you demonstrate your commitment to your goal by taking one concrete step in that direction, Saturn will reward your effort. If you're willing to work hard, take responsibility, face your fears and let go of the past, your Saturn Return can be a time of major achievement.
Love at the Saturn Return
The Saturn Return is a time of significant endings and beginnings, and relationships are no exception -- both weddings and divorces are common. This is a "make it or break it" transit, when you are ready to commit, one way or the other, and when you will receive clear signals to guide you.
If you're already in a partnership at the start of your Saturn Return, the relationship will be tested. The Saturn Return calls for personal growth and major life changes, and your partnership will also have to grow and change if it is to survive. Now is the time to address any issues that have been lurking beneath the surface, and to take responsibility for making necessary adjustments in how you relate.
Plenty of partnerships do survive the Saturn Return -- and ultimately achieve a deeper level of love and commitment. Honesty, flexibility and a willingness to release old habits and take a more mature approach are the keys to success.
If you start a new relationship during your Saturn Return, expect your sweetie to "play Saturn" -- triggering your insecurities, and pushing you to step up and take greater responsibility for yourself. You will be tested to stay committed to your work and goals, even during the excitement of a new romance.
Because the Saturn Return is a period that requires solitude and introspection, many people experience being single -- or temporarily separated from their partner -- during their Saturn Return. In some cases, it can feel like you have so much going on in your own life that you have no time or energy for a partnership. If you find yourself in this situation, commit to being your own best partner for the time being. Trust that the energy you invest in your individual growth and development will necessarily result in a more satisfying future partnership.
The second time around
By age 58, Saturn has completed another 29-year journey around the Sun, and you get your second Saturn Return. While this can also be a challenging period -- requiring big changes in work, relationships and other areas of life -- the second is typically less tumultuous than the first. As you revisit themes from your first Saturn Return, you now have the wisdom and experience of the past 29 years to draw on, and are likely to have much greater clarity about who you are and what you want to accomplish.
At the second Saturn Return, people often feel like they're finally free to do what they want -- no longer trying to please or prove themselves to others. Retirement is a common theme around the second Return, freeing up time to pursue a hobby or creative passion, and some even start on a new career path altogether.
Even though people can still feel quite youthful at age 58, the second Saturn Return marks an initiation into the role of elder. This could mean taking a more active role in your community, or mentoring or teaching the younger generation.
The bottom line: reclaiming authority
Ultimately, both Saturn Returns revolve around the theme of authority, confronting you with the question -- "who is the author of my life?" In any area where you are feeling restriction, limitation, deprivation or fear, look to see how you have given away your power to someone or something outside of yourself.
Reclaiming your authority means taking responsibility for whatever is happening in your life. Saturn, the great teacher, shows you that the only way to experience happiness and freedom is to take full possession of yourself. At your Saturn Return, giving away your power can lead to dire consequences, while reclaiming your authority will result in lasting success and inner satisfaction.