In the past 12-month, I have read a lot of charts for people experiencing either their first or second Saturn Return. And the more I have looked at these charts and talked to these individuals, the more I have asked myself: did these Saturn Return generations get dealt the nastiest planetary hand to play in the hardest game of astrological poker ever? The answer was yes – and no.
If you have Saturn in Libra (born in the early 1950s or early 1980s), I’m talking about you. But everyone else (including me) can learn something from your experience.
Before plunging into the specifics for these generations, I think it’s useful to remind ourselves of exactly what a Saturn Return is.
Put simply the Saturn Return is when the planet of responsibility and duty comes back to the place he was on the day you were born. It will have taken about 29 years for the old boy to make his way around the zodiac, bringing challenges and lessons to each sign he passes through.
Your first Saturn Return is when you officially come of age as an adult. Your second is when you step into the true seniority and find yourself at the beginning of the “third age”. If you’re lucky enough to get to a third Saturn Return, then I’d really like to hear what you can tell me about it.
Quite often the Saturn Return brings with it a feeling of now or never. You feel you have to take your life in your hands and make difficult choices if you want to live a full existence. Much depends on what you have done with the previous 28 years. If things haven’t gone too well, the Saturn Return can be pretty miserable, but if you’re doing OK, this can be a time of real achievement.
The first two Saturn Returns happen at around 29 years of age and around 58, but really the Return is the entire period that Saturn is in the same sign as he was when you were born, so it spans about two and a half years. What is more, Saturn usually hits the natal degree three times – forwards, backwards and then forwards again. Although if you’re lucky it might happen just once and, if you’re really get whipped, five times.
Until the discovery of Uranus a couple of hundred years ago, Saturn was the considered the boundary, the full stop at the end of the solar system. That’s important in understanding the planet’s symbolism. The Saturn cycle marks eras in your life. You can look at it in seven-year chunks (that’s a quarter a cycle) or 28 year chunks and you are bound to find a pattern. The Saturn Return marks a full stop at the end of one life chapter and the beginning of the next one.
In your natal chart, he appears in the area of life (house) where you will have to learn some serious lessons. It’s where you will have to overcome obstacles in order to become a fulfilled individual. He also symbolises the father and the part of your own psyche which acts as your “father”, the maker of rules, the disciplinarian (or not), the critic. It’s where you may block yourself, or be blocked.
Saturn is rock, earth, solid. Saturn is about building, about working, about striving.
He spends about 2.5 years in each sign. What does he do while he visits a sign?
Saturn’ is maturing. He rules the harvest. So when Saturn arrives in a sign, it’s ripe. This is metaphorical, of course. He is Father Time himself, carrying a long sharp scythe, ready to cut away what is unnecessary and what is simply ready to be threshed. He establishes boundaries. He brings responsibility. He makes foundations.Wherever he transits your chart you may experience difficulties but also garner rewards for jobs well done.
Imagine a peasant (in buckskin and rabbit fur if you like), cutting down his wheat, and remarking the boundaries of his field, walking the land he cultivates, weighing the flour from the miller, taking stock. Saturn rules the deep winter months of Capricorn and Aquarius, when the world is at its stillest.
The first time that Saturn returns to the degree where he was on the day you were born, you can expect a reckoning to take place. There will be a tally of how well you have done and how far you have to go. It’s time to face reality and ask yourself the hard questions, like, am I on the way to living the life I want? Am I the person I want to be? All too often the answer is, not really.
Remember that Saturn is exalted in Libra, the sign of the balance, used for weighing and measuring.
Many astrologers would say that you aren’t fully adult until after your first Saturn Return and the whole time that Saturn is in the sign he was at your birth is time of testing.
And your second Saturn Return may well be just as tough. This at a time when you have enough life behind you to really be able to judge yourself. If you feel you’ve done your best in the circumstances, this can be a good feeling, but if you feel you’ve wasted a lot of time and effort on nonsense, the second Saturn Return can be even harder than the first. You will be acutely aware that time is running out.
On your Saturn Returns, he asks this crucial question: “How well have you spent your time on Earth?”Part Two of this comes on Wednesday, when I’ll look at Saturn in Libra. Meanwhile here are links to an excellent series on the mythology of Saturn by Isy, which was published here at The OA over the summer.
The major book on the subject is by Liz Greene. I’ve come across a lot of people for whom this was their first encounter with real astrology. It’s excellent despite being past its first Saturn Return.