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Marriage. Divorce. Career breakthroughs. Retirement. Look back on your life, and you may find that some of its most impactful events coincided with your Saturn return, a potent astrological transit.
Nicknamed the "teacher of the zodiac," Saturn represents discipline and maturity. The term "Saturn return" refers to the moment that Saturn returns to the exact placement it was in when you were born—bringing typically Saturnian lessons along with it.
This transit occurs every 27 to 29 years, the length of time it takes for Saturn to travel through all 12 signs. Consequently, you can expect this (potentially) turbulent time to fall between the ages of 27-29, 56-60, and 84-90—depending on your birthday—and span for about three years. You can use this calculator to determine when your next Saturn will arrive.
Lisa Stardust, author of the new book Saturn Return Survival Guide, says that Saturn return has a reputation for transforming people. "Before your first Saturn return, you're coiffed. Then after, you look tired, because of all the ups and downs that you've gone through," she tells Oprah Daily.
Stardust says these "ups and downs" are necessary, because they lead to personal evolution. In her book, she compares the Saturn return to a "cosmic boot camp," in the sense that "we are forced to make decisions that will change our lives forever." Stardust elaborates, "During the Saturn return, we decide if the path that we’ve been on is what we want to do or what we’re supposed to do." For example, Stardust made the decision to pursue a career as an astrologer during her first Saturn return. Below, Stardust shares what a Saturn return might mean for you.
Let's start with the basics. What is a Saturn return?
Every 27 to 29 years, Saturn returns to the degree and sign that it was at the time that you were born. Saturn is your cosmic entryway into adulthood. It’s the cosmic exit out of your current situation and into something more beautiful. When you're going through your Saturn return, you're experiencing how you're evolving and transforming with time, according to Stardust.
What does Saturn represent in astrology?
Saturn is known to be an austere and heavy planet. You can't tread through its transits lightly. Saturn the planet is a taskmaster, and will force you to ask, "Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing?"
Your Saturn's placement affects the experience of a Saturn return.
You can check your natal chart to see what sign, and what house, your Saturn falls in. (There are 12 astrological houses, each of which governs a sector of life.) The house indicates what you may be dealing with during the Saturn return. Let's say your Saturn is in your 4th house of home and family. In that case, your Saturn return may be about building roots, buying or selling a house, or questioning your notion of home. The 10th house of public image may be about jobs, the 7th house of relationships will be about commitment.
The sign is important as well. For example, say your Saturn is in Virgo. On a bad day, Virgo is a critical sign. The lesson during your Saturn return might involve learning that you need to be a lot easier on yourself.
How do the three Saturn returns compare?
Your early 20s are always a time when pivotal changes happen—regardless of you knowing it’s a Saturn return, Stardust says. That's why the second Saturn return, that happens in your late 50s, can feel more dramatic than the first one. By then, you're likely more regimented and change can be challenging. But it’s time to remember that you’re in charge of your life. "Sometimes people don’t know what that looks like after working for 30 to 40 years. It's time to explore the things that you always wanted to do," says Stardust. "The third Saturn return happens when we’re in our late 80s. That’s a time of reflection. Did I do it all? Do I have any regrets?"
These are the typical signs that someone is in the midst of a Saturn return.
"What I tend to see with my astrology clients is that they want to hold onto situations that aren't working, or they don't take accountability for the fact that this isn't the right path for them," says Stardust. "People can feel really stuck, especially when they’re in their late 50s and are contemplating the next phase of their lives. A lot of it is just about fear. We’re creatures of comfort. Taking the step to evolve to the next phase of life is always challenging. We’re used to what we’re used to because we've been doing it for 27 to 29 years."
Experiencing your Saturn return? Stardust has some advice.
"Breathe and don’t be so hard on yourself—it’s going to be fine. These are lessons that you’re learning in how to be happier. I always say, 'Don’t fight change,'" Stardust says. "We get caught up in our comfort. There’s something beautiful in taking the next step forward or leaping into something new. Also, learn to embrace your inner child. Saturn is a planet about growing up, but it’s also a planet about understanding that the inner child needs to be loved as well."
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