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We’ve all heard of the dreaded Saturn return. But what does the true meaning of the Saturn return entail and how can we prepare ourselves for it? Of all the seven traditional planets, Saturn is the furthest away from the sun that can still be seen with the naked eye. The moon zips through the entire zodiac in 28 ½ days, the sun spends about a month in each sign, but Saturn takes its time—staying in one zodiac sign for around 2 ½ years before making its way into the next.
But for now, what you really need to know is that it takes Saturn roughly 29 years to make a full orbit around the zodiac wheel, which is the approximate age when we experience our first Saturn return. Consequently, the second one comes at around 59 years old. And if we’re lucky enough, we experience our third Saturn return around the age of 90.
Think of these moments as climatic turning points in your coming-of-age story. Embrace them as a divine rite of passage, because that’s exactly what they are. Saturn may be a strict disciplinarian, but this fearsome and unrelenting planet shows you how to not only survive, but thrive in this harsh and unpredictable world. Saturn shows us way our karma has the consequences, but it also teaches us how to break free from that karma. Here’s everything you need to know about what happens to you when Saturn “returns” to the zodiac sign it was in when you were born (and why it can be the most dramatic thing you’ll ever go through:
What Is a Saturn Return?
A Saturn return happens when Saturn reaches the exact position—by sign and degree—that it was positioned at was at the moment of your birth. You’ll probably feel this energy even before it reaches the exact degree. Once Saturn moves into your natal Saturn sign, the process of your Saturn return begins and this planet’s presence in your life becomes impossible to deny.
Every time a planet in the sky meets up to the exact degrees of the same planet in your birth chart, you experience a “return.” For example, every year we experience a solar return on our birthday, when the sun finally meets the exact degree as it was when we were born. While the sun’s placement is the same, the rest of the planets are in different signs. Astrologers analyze the new planets, aspects, and conversations between signs and planets to reveal themes for the coming year. You can think of your Saturn return almost like a birthday (a once-every-29-years birthday). But instead of solar themes—like being the center of attention, receiving gifts and making well-wishes for health and vitality—this period brings up Saturnian themes instead.
When Saturn is involved, think: responsibilities, rules, restrictions, obligations, challenges, and lessons. Sometimes tough ones. It’s like a cosmic check-in—and check-up—from the Lord of Karma himself.
This is your astrological coming-of-age story. It is important to remember that Saturn’s job is to show you the areas of your life where you are the hardest on yourself. You are being pushed to level up to the next stage of life. After all, Saturn is the planetary taskmaster, and at this time, he will likely hold your feet to the proverbial fire.
How Do I Prepare for My Saturn Return?
Consider your life before this moment: You have been restricted by the rules placed on you by your parents, teachers, bosses, mentors, and even society at large. Now Saturn is stepping in to ask some tough questions.
- Are you taking responsibility for yourself, your life, and your choices?
- Is your current life path in line with what you’ve always wanted?
- Are you honoring your obligations to others, and most importantly, to yourself?
You will be tasked with finding new tools in order to create a new way forward. It means stripping away a lot of inner insecurities and external support systems to make room for an upgraded outlook and vision for your life. As a rule, Saturn takes his time to ensure that you do, too.
It is a slow-moving process, so as you go through this, remember that there are no shortcuts, there will be tests, and you will get through it. By the end of your Saturn return (and by the time of your second and third Saturn return), as you continue to apply these hard-earned lessons, you will eventually greet Saturn like an old friend. You’ll see that Saturn’s tough love during your return called upon you to stop giving away your power. As a result, you’ll see that Saturn was not the author of your life. You are—and always were. Subsequently, Saturn didn’t take away anything that was meant for you. Saturn is here to confront you and ensure that you’re on the right path.
To fully understand Saturn’s lessons for each of us, find Saturn’s sign and house placement in your birth chart, and then read through for an explanation of what it means for you.