The Saturn Return is an astrological phenomenon that occurs in a person’s life at approximately 27–30 years of age and again around the age of 58–60, with the third and usually final occurrence around 86-88. The planet Saturn takes approximately 29.5 years to orbit the Sun ; when it returns to the exact degree along the ecliptic it occupied at the time of a person’s birth this is referred to as their “Saturn Return”.
Saturn is symbolically/astrologically associated with time, challenge, fear, doubt, confusion, difficulty, seriousness, heaviness, and hard lessons, among other more positive things such as structure, significance, accomplishment, reflection, power, prestige, maturity, and order – this is why astrologers believe that the thirtieth birthday is such a major rite of passage and is considered by many astrologers to mark the “true beginning” of adulthood, self-evaluation, independence, responsibility, ambition, and full maturation.
Certain astrological patterns occur universally–that is, everyone
gets them at approximately the same age. One of those astrological patterns is the “Saturn Return” which occurs when transiting Saturn (where it is in the sky now) returns to the same position in the zodiac which Saturn occupied when you were born. Everyone experiences a Saturn Return around age 28-30.
A number of psychologists have also studied life cycles and changes. They note that adulthood is just as much a time of shifts as childhood. We do not stop growing and changing when we “come of age.”
Life is a continuing process of development. One Harvard study (by Daniel Levinson and others) noted seven major transition (crisis) periods in the men they studied. (This particular study only examined men.)
During transition periods, people reappraise their lives, leave the
old, begin the new. Sometimes the changes are quite far reaching. The transition periods identified by psychology correspond neatly with major transiting (astrological) patterns. Levinson stressed the “Age Thirty Transition” and “Mid-Life Transition” as the most universally experienced of these crisis periods.
The “Age Thirty Transition” corresponds to the Saturn Return (which occurs around age 28-30). Astrologically, the issues center around time, structure, responsibility, power and accomplishment.
One common experience is that people suddenly feel “old,” perhaps for the first time. “I’m almost thirty,” the inner refrain goes, “and what have I done with my life?” A sense of time passing emerges, with more urgency to accomplish something lasting. People are likely to examine their lives to date and judge their achievements (or what they see as lack of achievements).
People will usually take a good, hard look at the structures of their life–their career, their family, their relationships. They may decide to change jobs, change careers, change relationships. Endings are quite possible, but so are beginning. (Some people, for example, have their first child — a major responsibility — around this age.)
How much, how little, and what kind of responsibility and power the person is wielding become a focus for examination. Typically, people who have been carrying too much of the load, overdoing responsibility, will look for ways to cut back. People who have been avoiding responsibility may be forced to be more grounded, or willingly take on additional tasks and power in order to gain the achievements they desire.
There tend to be four generalized paths of possibility here.
(1) Individuals who have chosen in their twenties a life structure
which is really very suited to their character, may simply solidify
their gains. They may receive an important promotion, take on
additional responsibilities, gain increased power, but generally are just expanding on the path already selected. (This is a relatively small group among the total.)
(2) Individuals who have not really settled into a life structure, who have been experimenting, or wandering, seeking and searching in their twenties, will feel the pressure of time. A group of them will make their first real commitment at this point. They will settle into a career (as opposed to “just a job”). They will get married. They will select a life structure which gives them a sense of stability, but fits what they’ve learned about themselves through the years of”trying on” different things in their twenties. They will set their sights on accomplishments, and be ready to really dig in, building a foundation for the future.
(3) Individuals who have also searched in their twenties, but not
developed skills, self-confidence, or necessary expertise, may
continue to flounder. They will also feel a sense of pressure, of time
passing them by, of wanting to do something that will last–that will
make a “real” difference. Without adequate preparation or commitment,
however, they tend to end up feeling blocked and frustrated. Nothing
really works for them. Nothing comes together. Their efforts seem
futile. To escape this trap, they must go back, build up their skills,
competence and willingness to be ractical about responsibilities. They
have to take more time to catch up with their peers.
(4) Individuals who have chosen in their twenties a life structure
which is not very suited to their character, or who have simply
changed a great deal, will make breaks. The old ways will feel
confining, limiting, restrictive. Old patterns of behavior seem
formalized and lifeless. In such cases, the people involved may end
relationships, quit or be fired from jobs, move, or otherwise alter
the basic structure of their lives. Sometimes they break out before
they know what they are going toward. They simply know that they
cannot continue to work with the current design. After (or while)
making their breaks, these people will actively seek a firm
commitment. They will look for a life tasks which will provide them
with a sense of achievement, mastery and competence. They will seek
out responsibilities that will help them to feel they are making a
real contribution and gaining expertise.
Of course, some people will do a mixture of these four, generalized
paths. They may build, advance and solidify their family life, while
making major breaks in their career (or vice versa). Each individual
will meet the “Age Thirty Crisis” in his/her own way!
When in this transition (crisis) period, it is valuable to ask
yourself the following questions
1. What kind of a career am I temperamentally suit for?
2. If I died tomorrow, what would I like to leave in the world?
3. What kind of person do I want to grow old with as a mate?
4. Do I want the responsibility of a family?
5. How hard am I willing to work?
6. How much responsibility am I willing to take on?
7. Where am I feeling burdened, restricted, confined and limited?
8. How can I change my life to feel competent, capable, expert
and in charge (rather than burdened, etc.)?
9. What skills have I developed through my life to date that I
can put to work in the world?
10. Am I still living out the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” of
someone else (parents, teacher, partners, etc.)? If so, how can I be
truer to my inner essence?
11. How, where, and to what, do I want to make an enduring commitment?
12. If I view this as a time to lay a foundation, what is it I
would like to build in the next six to seven years?