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Earth from Saturn - Cassini spaceship image (NASA)

Growing Up, Astrologically Speaking

What the 30-year “Saturn Return” is all about

29 or 30… The return of Saturn happens approximately every 30-years – when the planet returns to the position in the zodiac it was in the natal chart.

Saturn, the planet with the hula hoops around his waist, was once [and to a certain extent, still is] considered the villain in astrology, has a great influence on our lives when we close in on our 30th birthday.

He affects space and time and is a strict teacher who teaches us responsibility for ourselves. Yes, he is also called the karma planet. In our natal chart he often requires patience and care and can seem a bit stubborn and immobile. The zodiac sign Capricorn is ruled by him.

If you have Capricorn as one of your ‘Big 3’, it is little wonder if you feel him, the teacher of your sign, when he returns to the position of in the natal chart. You will generally start feeling this when you are about 29… so turning 30 can give you quite a headache.

This is the time when you are likely to get the feeling that you have to take responsibility for your life and question everything – your relationships, your job, your home, your goals, wishes, expectations… everything really.

Now, don’t feel burdened by this, it is not a case of exposing the failings (although that may also happen), look at the things that you can feel very proud of: your friendships, educational achievements, vocational progress, etc. When you reach the ‘Almost 30’ point, Saturn will help focus your mind.

No matter how different life circumstances are, with Almost 30, everyone’s thoughts and feelings seem to revolve around the same questions. And this is all caused by the first return of Saturn into our natal chart.

Astrologers call the transits of Saturn to this position in the natal chart one of the most important positions in a person’s life. But, if you’ve already passed this one, you can still read on.

Saturn moves very regularly, which means that we mostly go through 2-3 Saturnian cycles in our lifetime: The first cycle is from 0-29 years. This phase of life is all about learning.
The second Saturn cycle is from 29-59. This is about life in society, family and work.
The third cycle of 59-88 is devoted to the spiritual connection.
The most impactful of these ‘Saturn Returns’ is definitely this first return at age 29-30.

As with many important astrological transits, we often only recognise them afterwards. To recognise such things in retrospect is also interesting, and better later than never, but it does make a lot easier if you prepare yourself beforehand what is going to try to understand your own horoscope.

Reading or having someone read the natal chart and also the solar horoscope or returns (valid every year from birthday to birthday) can help to develop an early warning system in order to be better prepared.

So, at the age of 29, or at the latest at the age of 30, Saturn would have run through the entire zodiac once and checked all planets and houses for their maturity.

If we could only get an operators certificate, or driver’s licence when we reach astrological adulthood, then it would be when our first Saturn Return has been completed.

Saturn’s examination of all of our twelve astrological houses – standing for the different areas in life, from work to self-presentation to family and children, can cause a lot of fear and doubt. In principle, it causes real test anxiety, we just don’t have our sights trained on what is going on a planetary basis.

Starting at the age of 29 (+/- 1 year), the Saturn Return can last up to three years, depending on which zodiac sign Saturn was in when you were born. This also indicates certain traits that will influence how Saturn affects each life area.

In your natal chart, you can also read off the degree at which Saturn sits at the time of your birth, which gives an even more precise position than just the zodiac sign. When Saturn returns to this exact position again, you reach the peak of your Saturn Return and it may well be that at this time you will make important decisions or have experiences that will have a strong impact on your further life.

The Saturn Return is always a kind of examination and review of the various acts of life. He prompts you to make internal or external changes. With regard to responsibility, Saturn in this position usually gives us concrete information about our karmic path and brings us into contact with ourselves. In this phase, we often learn to take full responsibility for ourselves and our happiness for the first time.

Perhaps you are already thinking about a few situations around the time you were 29, or 59… or what might be building up for these events? In any case, you now want to know for sure how you can determine your personal Saturn Return.

It’s actually quite easy, you just have to know what time you were born – I guess that you know the date and place is difficult.

  • Check your natal chart ( you can create a free natal chart in many places on the web – some provide a better quality answer than others).
  • [Normally] at the bottom of the chart, you see the small table that shows which zodiac sign is behind each planet – look for Saturn and the number of degrees it is at.
  • Make a note of that check out the annual ephemeris tables (you can find them here – don’t worry, I know they look daunting – this is why we ‘translate them every month). Look through them for 27 years after you were born.
  • In the column with the Saturn symbol (the symbol looks something like a 5), scroll down the column until the zodiac symbol you are looking for appears for the first time (what is behind your Saturn in the natal chart).

This is now the beginning of your Saturn Return.

Keep looking until you get to the number of degrees you wrote down. Be careful, in some places Saturn is retrograde this means Saturn could transit the natal Saturn twice. You have probably heard that from Mercury before. If this is the case, the numbers decrease again, just keep looking, they also increase again.

Keep looking through the tables/column until he changes sign again (Warning: look out for the retrogrades). Now your Saturn Return is completely over and you are astrologically adult (or have moved to the next phase if it is your second or third return).

Do not fear your Saturn Return, but be prepared for the enlightenment that he offers – use the return to ‘spring clean’ and refocus for the next phase of your ‘adult life!

Note – the picture is of the Earth taken by the Cassini spacecraft as it orbited Saturn (cc. NASA)

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