The Saturn return: What astrology can tell you about turning 30

This year I turn 30, it's made me think about a few things.

If you happen to hang out in the same corners of the internet that I do you might have heard or read about a thing called the Saturn return. This is when the planet Saturn (the great, but stern teacher of astrological mythology) reappears in your life bringing with it lots of change and confusion – basically telling you it’s time to grow up.

A quick disclaimer here, before I get on with the post. I believe planets are round things orbiting a star. Just like the trams in Helsinki they can’t tell us that much about who we are and how we should live our lives. But sometimes, when things feel a bit confusing, when we have some sort of life-crisis, when we’re coming up to a big birthday, it might be enjoyable and enlightening to look at things from a different perspective.

Psychoanalyst Rollo May writes in his book “The Cry for Myth” that myths are a way of making sense in a senseless world. Myths give us a narrative pattern that gives significance to our existence. Unfortunately, according to May and many others, we have lost many of our myths and stories in these sceptical and scientific times. May continues:

Carl Sagan spent much effort in his television series attacking astrology as unscientific. Arguing from his position as professor of astronomy, he did not seem to realise that astrology has an entirely different basis. Astrology is a myth and requires the language of myth. It has both the shortcomings and the positive effect of myths.

The more I read about this Saturn return, the more the astrological language has hit a nerve. Approaching thirty is a bit of a big thing. No matter how casually you look at your life, you will probably at some point have thought about what you would have done before and where you’d like when you turn 30.

So what does astrology say?

Saturn starts coming back to your chart when you’re 28, bringing with it changes and closing one chapter of your life (your youth and childhood) and pushing you over the threshold into adulthood.

This is a time when you learn how to stand on your own two feet and will start letting go of old patterns and thoughts that aren’t really your own. It can be a stressful, painful and life-changing period.

This thinking interests me because the last few years have perhaps been the most confusing years of my life. It has felt a bit like being in a tumble dryer. My head is still spinning.

I’ve had a big re-think when it comes to what kind of work I want to do and how I do it. I’ve married and changed my name, going from being a very independent person who has always done everything by myself to being a part of a couple and a team. I’ve had to learn how to be vulnerable, to ask for help and rely on someone else. It’s occasionally been very scary. I’ve learned that things are never as simple as they seem.

The great teacher

Saturn is known as the great teacher (imagine a kind of old fashioned, stern, but fair school teacher). In the world of astrology it’s the kind of force that demands a lot, but also pushes us take a hard look at ourselves and try to be the best we can.

Our late twenties is a time in our lives when we come face to face with reality. Perhaps because there are so many societal expectations placed on where we should be and what we should have done with our lives by the time we turn thirty, most of us are forced to look closer at the choices we have made and how we want to spend the next decade.

Saturn comes back into our charts when we’re 29 (the astrology geeks among you might be interested to hear that before then the moon also comes back into our chart, a sort of subtle emotional way to prepare us for Saturn).

In many ways the Saturn Return is like going into the army, rehab or one of those extreme wilderness experiences; our addictions, comfort, and freedom are taken away and we are forced to push beyond our limits and confront our fears. But if we dig in and don’t give up, we often discover a whole new level of strength, self-discipline, and maturity, writes Virgina Bell who’s an astrologer.

This is what happens (according to astrologers)

  • It’s time to grow up
  • It’s time to face reality
  • You become aware of your own mortality
  • You come face to face with your fears
  • It’s a time to break negative patterns and habits

Yes, I know that could be one of those generic statements, but so what if it fits.

There are plenty of people out there who would describe these experiences as a quarter-life crisis. Whatever name we choose to give this period in our lives, perhaps we all just need to be more aware of how confusing and significant our late 20s can be.

I was a different person a few years ago. Everything that happened over the last few years has made me feel more like a grown up. I feel more secure in who I am and what I want to do. If this is how things will continue then getting older is something to look forward to.

If you find the idea of Saturn returns interesting, you might want to keep in mind that if you have a long life Saturn will return a couple of times – when you’re 56-60 and 84-90.

If you were born between 1983 and 1985 and want to learn more about how Saturn affects you Cafe Astrology has a pretty good guide to what it means for your star sign.

Now that’s enough New Age on this blog for at least a couple of weeks.

Image by Juskeetz Vu.

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