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What is a Saturn Return and How Can You Prepare For Yours?

Saturn is our planet of restriction, responsibility and maturity. It forces us to recognize where we need more structure in our lives, taking authority over situations and defining boundaries and limits. 

When Saturn comes full circle in the zodiac, a process that takes around 29.5 years, it meets up with the point in your birth chart where Saturn was at the moment of your birth. 

This is known as a Saturn Return. 

Astrologically, this is a time of shedding old ways of being and coming into a new phase of life, through sustained effort over time. 

What age is your Saturn Return? 

Your Saturn Return is said to begin when the planet enters your natal Saturn sign. It takes around 2.5 years to travel through the sign, and therefore your Saturn Return will last as long as Saturn remains in that sign. This typically begins around age 27, but can last into the early 30’s. 

The most difficult moments of this transit will occur around the exact opposition, which varies depending on the degree at which Saturn sits. 

Take for example, two people with Saturn in Libra, one born with Saturn at 2 degrees Libra and one born two years later with Saturn at 25 degrees Libra. Both will experience the effects of their Saturn Returns when Saturn moves into Libra. However, the person at 2 degrees Libra will feel it more strongly early on in its transit, whereas the person at 25 degrees Libra will feel it more strongly toward the end. While they both experience their Saturn Return over the same years, it will be at different ages, because they were born two years apart. 

Similarly, Saturn Returns occur around the ages of 58-60, and again in our late 80’s/ early 90’s. Only a few people have lived long enough to experience a fourth Saturn Return.  

What happens during a Saturn Return? 

The term “Saturn Return” is rivaled in fear only by “Mercury Retrograde,” as it can be a time of upheaval, tough lessons learned, and generally growing up with maturity. If you’ve been shirking responsibilities or you’re on the wrong path, this is a time of course-correction, which is not always easy. 

Because we experience our first Saturn Return around the age of 30, astrologically this is considered the period when we truly come into adulthood. No manner of modern education or societal milestones truly prepares us for the life lessons that Saturn doles out during a Saturn Return. As a result, the first one is typically the most difficult of all Saturn Returns you may experience in your lifetime. 

By the time Saturn comes back around later in life, you’ll already have learned many of Saturn’s lessons. Of course, if you haven’t, Saturn will ensure a course correction, forcing you to once again take important actions to get you back on track. 

Saturn isn’t all bad, however, and just as we continue to weather through each and every Mercury Retrograde multiple times a year, we also persevere through our Saturn Returns. Hindsight is often 20/20 when it comes to Saturn Returns, so be patient and know that any difficulties during this time are not for nothing.  

Saturn may even dole out some rewards along the way! As we listen to the universe and connect more closely with our true, authentic selves, Saturn may offer a rare cosmic pat on the back. In this way, we know we are making the right choices for ourselves, no matter how difficult or how long it took us to get there. 

The outcome of your Saturn Return is ultimately up to you. But if you listen to the lessons and take action where needed, you’ll find that Saturn does not break us, but rather bends us into a new, more aligned direction from where we were before. 

How can I prepare for my Saturn Return? 

If you’re past the age of your first Saturn Return, it’s easy to look back upon the time when Saturn was in its natal position of your birth chart, and consider how this affected you. What was going on in your life at that time? What decisions or changes did you make that benefited you in the long run? How did you react internally and externally to these changes? 

Saturn will continue similar patterns and themes throughout each Saturn Return, so reviewing what has occurred in the past can be a useful exercise. No two Saturn Returns will be the same, of course, and that’s because we are generally quite different people at 60 than we are at 30. Still, the universe wants us to continue to evolve, and Saturn plays a large role in this process. 

If you are preparing for your first Saturn Return, or want additional insights into your next one, look to both the house and the sign in which Saturn sits in your birth chart. 

The house will help determine where in your life Saturn is playing a role. Is this about changing your self image (first house) or partnerships (seventh house)? Perhaps your 10th house of career will be up for consideration, and you’ll switch careers entirely. Or your fourth house contains Saturn, and it’s time to move or add to your house to make it more inviting and comfortable. 

The sign in which Saturn sits will help determine how the return plays out. A fire sign, for example, may effectively ‘burn a bridge’ between your previous experiences and your future. Or it could simply come out in a passionate way, creating a ‘burning desire’ to make shifts internally. A Libra Saturn will be seeking balance in your life, whereas a Sagittarius Saturn will be trying to break free of anything holding it back, seeking travel, adventure and knowledge in the process. 

Ultimately, there is no true ‘preparation’ for a Saturn Return. You may find yourself between a rock and a hard place, and Saturn gives you the opportunity to make the best decision for yourself. 

About the Author

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson (Leo Sun, Scorpio Moon, Virgo Rising) is the resident astrologer for Writual Society. A writer by trade and a life-long learner, she has been studying astrology for nearly two decades and combines her passion for the stars with an easy understanding of what all that astro-speak really means. Dayna lives in Chicago with her husband and teenage daughter. Her Gemini Midheaven ensures she's never out of projects to work on and is currently a freelance writer for multicultural agency TEN35, reads astrology charts, and speaks at events. 
For more info on where Saturn is now and other planetary aspects this year, grab the 2022 Planetary Preview Workbook or the 2022 Planetary Preview Digital Download

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