Our late twenties are a whirlwind. Stressful, turbulent, and filled with life changes, the years leading up to one’s thirtieth birthday can be some of the rockiest. Just ask Adele, who got a tattoo to commemorate the challenges of her Saturn return, or Gwen Stefani, who wrote an entire album about it. Turns out, there's an astrological factor behind the chaos. In astrology, a Saturn return is an important planetary occurrence that marks a period of intense change, ushering us out of our childhood and teaching us lessons about maturity — and everyone experiences one as they wrap up their third decade.
It takes Saturn approximately 29.5 years to complete one full orbit around the sun, so the phrase "Saturn return" literally refers to Saturn returning to the exact place in the zodiac that it was when you were born. Everyone experiences their first Saturn return between the ages of about 27 and 30, as it’s during these years that Saturn aligns with its placement in your birth chart for the very first time. These years are often marked by tons of upheaval — think break-ups or marriages, switching careers, moving to a new city, or generally coming to terms with changes you need to make in your life.
If you were born from late 1990 through 1994, then your first Saturn return kicked off in December 2020, when it began passing through the sign of Aquarius. Here's what to expect from your Saturn return, what it represents, and how to make the most of this life-changing astrological growth period.
The Power Of Saturn In Astrology
The planet Saturn in astrology is all about tough love and hard work. It represents responsibility, discipline, boundaries, structure, patience, and maturity. During your Saturn return, all of these areas of life will be put to the test. Saturn is known as the great teacher of the zodiac, so when it completes its first full orbit through your birth chart during your late twenties, expect for some harsh life lessons to be learned — and some major growth to take place.
Technically speaking, a Saturn return refers to a conjunction aspect between transiting Saturn (aka, Saturn right now) and your natal Saturn (aka, where Saturn is located in your birth chart). Conjunctions always denote the beginning of a new cycle — and in the case of a Saturn return, they ask us to face up to the challenges that come with leaving one chapter behind and entering a new one.
Because Saturn is the planet that relates to structure and maturity, Saturn returns have the ability to shake up the foundation of our lives, exposing our weak points and immaturities. Suddenly having to deal with the messes we made in our teens and twenties can be scary and overwhelming, but the blessing in this chaos is gaining a newfound ability to step into our own power. This means we can start to patch up the holes in our lives and take responsibility for ourselves in a more grown up and powerful way.
When Does Your Saturn Return Start?
If you’re approaching 30, you're likely experiencing the height of your first Saturn return (it typically peaks at around 29 years but can be felt before and after that, too). Many astrologers believe your Saturn return begins as soon as Saturn enters the sign it was in at the time of your birth — which means that some people may feel the effects a year or two earlier than others. However, some astrologers don’t consider someone to be in their Saturn return until transiting Saturn approach the exact degree of their natal Saturn, which requires more precise calculation. If you want to find the dates of your Saturn return, you can consult an astrologer or plug your birth information into an online Saturn return calculator.
Although the Saturn return that occurs around age 30 is the most widely discussed, people experience multiple Saturn returns within their lifetime. That means you can expect the next one during your late fifties (aka a mid-life crisis), and another in your late eighties. Each of these periods induce a reckoning of our responsibilities and usher us into a new phase of our lives.
What Happens During Your Saturn Return?
When Saturn realigns itself with your natal placement, this new beginning can induce a full-blown reckoning and crisis point. It's normal to feel overwhelmed by personal issues and responsibilities during this period, but it’s also a time to learn from past mistakes and face these challenges head-on.
If you're living your life in a way that's inauthentic to you (such as staying in a toxic relationship or dead-end job), honor the voice inside your heart that's screaming for change. While taking a leap of faith can be scary, your Saturn return asks that you put in the hard work that’s required to be true to yourself.
The planet Saturn rewards diligence and patience, and frowns upon shortcuts or temporary fixes. In other words, the more we repress the inner turmoil that bubbles up during our Saturn returns, the messier it’s bound to get. These periods also ask us to step up when it comes to handling adult responsibilities. Is it time to take out a credit card? Make that therapy appointment? Start that business? Quit that job? Say yes to the dress? Whether you're teetering on the edge of committing to something or abandoning it, your Saturn return asks you to be mature and focused in your decision-making — and to brave the internal struggles that come along with making such pivotal life choices.
Saturn returns can be riddled with instability and hardship, but you'll come out the other side with a new sense of empowerment, confidence, and trust in yourself.
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