Career shifts, breakups and new-found joy. What should you expect from your Saturn return?
Written by Marianne Eloise
Your Saturn return is an astrological event that happens between the ages of 29-31, causing major life shifts. Here, Stylist speaks to women who’ve found themselves in its grips
As Juliet reached the end of her 20s, she felt completely lost. One day, she had a lightbulb moment during a shiatsu massage, prompting her to completely redirect the course of her life. Inspired, she retrained as a shiatsu practitioner, leaving her job as a civil servant. Then, she decided to end her unhappy marriage of eight years. Despite the disruption, she was happier and colleagues suggested these changes were down to an astrological event called her ‘Saturn return’.
“It feels horrible at first because everything you’ve known might suddenly change. But if I hadn’t gone through it, my life would have been dull, I think,” says Juliet. “It’s an opportunity to wake up to your purpose and to change direction.”
No matter your belief system, your late 20s are bound to be a pretty chaotic time. Getting married, grieving, changing jobs, having kids or watching your friends have them is all par for the course. For followers of the stars, however, this chaos is down to something called your Saturn return, an astrological event that happens every 28.5 years (meaning you first feel its effect between the ages of 27-31).
“Your Saturn return is a point that occurs during the cyclical motion of Saturn as seen from the Earth’s perspective. It returns to the place it was in the sky when you were born,” explains astrologer Alice Sparkly Kat, who has created a workshop for Saturn’s imminent transit into Pisces.
According to astrologers, this means you’re likely to experience some transformation and tough lessons, with some believers even referring to Saturn as the ‘harvester’, coming to reap what you’ve sown over the last few decades. That may be good or bad, but it’s going to be intense. During this time, astrologers believe you will see either the fruits of your labour or the consequences of your actions over the past three decades. You might start to feel restless, preparing for the transition, and things might not work out the way you expected. In short, you’ll grow up.
“The return marks a point during which we recognise those implications and figure out what ageing means for ourselves,” adds Alice. “All of this coincides with you realising you have more experience in life. These experiences come into self-recognition and your maturity becomes a more conscious part of your self-image.”
Emma, 36, found that their Saturn return coincided with a general desire to change their life. They experienced a massive shift in their career and, on a personal level, realised that their social life wasn’t serving them. They also started to get therapy. “It was like everything happened at once and each thing was a lesson that made sense once I was looking back on it,” they says now. The biggest change, however, was in their career. “I managed to get over my imposter syndrome and start realising that I had what it took to enter the next level of my career. If I can dream it, I can make it.”
Caggie Dunlop is the author of Saturn Returns: Your Cosmic Coming of Age, a book about navigating this complex time. “Our Saturn return ultimately seeks our truth and wants to draw out our potential,” says Dunlop. Astrologically, however, Saturn is known as a cruel planet of tough love, according to Dunlop: “Its methods are often aggressive, ruthless even. If we are in a relationship that is wrong for us or a career that is out of alignment with our true calling, it can dramatically strip things away – but it does so to build something authentic and meaningful, and invites us to build on steady foundations so we can create something of meaning for the next 30 years.”
But is this all real? Or does your return just happen to coincide with a complicated time in our lives? “It’s fair to say your late 20s are a tricky time of transition as we initiate into adulthood, willingly or otherwise. But within the realms of astrology, Saturn is associated with karma, discipline and responsibility, so if we haven’t been living in a Saturnian fashion, it can be a rude awakening when Saturn returns,” says Dunlop. She’s speaking from experience – for Dunlop personally, her Saturn return turned everything “upside down”.
“A breakup that came out of nowhere, a career dead end, friendships ending and changing, questioning everything,” she says. To cope, Dunlop leaned into her spiritual practice and started to help others navigate this tough time.
While there is no correct way to manage ageing or cope with your returns, says Alice, you can learn to accept it and the lessons it has to teach you. “Our idea of what getting older means changes around this time. Someone might think that their Saturn return will be about being responsible in a pragmatic way but then discover that they had to learn how to cry or have an orgasm,” says Alice. “Or, someone might really work towards some kind of career success because that signifies independence to them and even achieve it to some extent but also go through bereavement around the return period and have to contend with ageing in a whole new way than before.”
You can’t force Saturn’s hand, says Alice, but you can prepare to learn. “You may find yourself accepting that you don’t have to be the best to accept yourself, navigating responsibility when you don’t have control over everything, and being willing to be with yourself and experience the fullness of life instead of believing that your purpose is to solve problems,” she says. “Everyone will go through a Saturn return differently, though. There’s no right way to age.”
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